Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions on Médecins Sans Frontières' 

 

Recruitment

Age Limit

Is there an age limit for international staff?

No, there are no age restrictions to work with MSF. However there may be external insurance limitations. All international staff need to have the physical and mental fitness to cope with the demanding conditions that may be encountered on assignment. 

Citizenship

Can I apply to MSF Australia if I do not have an Australian or NZ citizenship?

MSF Australia can only recruit those who have an unrestricted work permit to work in Australia. This is usually New Zealand citizens and those who hold permanent residency in Australia. This is because those we recruit are placed on an employment contract with MSF Australia, and we can only do this if they have the legal right to work here.

If this is not applicable to you please refer to the MSF International website to locate your nearest office to apply to.

Military Career

Do you recruit people who are employed by the Armed forces, Reserves or Department of Defense? 

MSF recognises that many of the skills gained in a military career are relevant to the delivery of humanitarian assistance, however, applicants must be aware that this background may present a direct conflict of interest with the Charter of MSF. There may be limited assignment opportunities in the many security-sensitive contexts we work in.

The following criteria must be satisfied before MSF Australia can consider an applicant:

  • Have a minimum of 2 years since being discharged from the Defence Force or Reserves
  • For those on the Armed Forces Reserve List will have to remove themselves from this list, if accepted by MSF. 
Not Worked For A Few Years

Can I still apply if I have not worked in my profession for several years?

Medical professionals must not have a recent gap in clinical experience greater than two years.

Non-medical professionals will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. A candidate’s chances of selection may decrease if they do not have relevant experience within the last three to four years. 

Criminal record

Can I apply if I have a criminal record?

MSF does not discriminate on any grounds. However, all applicants must be aware that if recruited, criminal record and working with children checks will be required. A conviction will not result in the denial of an employment offer, however it be reviewed to ensure that it will not impact on an individual's capacity to fulfil a position. This will include being able to obtain the visa required for a particular country. 

Paramedics

Does MSF recruit paramedics?

MSF does not currently recruit paramedics, although we recognise this as highly skilled profession in an medical setting in Australia and New Zealand. The countries we work in do not recognise the qualification, and therefore restrict access to MSF obtaining a work visa for paramedic profiles.

Ambulance services are not common in MSF projects, patients are transferred in MSF vehicles, accompanied by nurses and/or medical doctors. In the few locations where we do run those services, the paramedics are recruited locally.  

 

Placement

Assignment country

What country are you likely to work in if you apply to Médecins Sans Frontières Australia?

This will depend on a number of factors, including the needs of the projects and your skills, experience, and language competence. We do not recruit for a specific job or country. We recruit people who meet our criteria, and then we will try to find you an appropriate position. 

Partner/Family

Can I go on assignment with my partner?

No. All posts for first-time field staff are unaccompanied. Most placement locations do not allow for friends or family members to visit. Accompanied posts may be offered to experienced fieldworkers, depending on field needs

Short Placements

Can someone go on a field placement at his or her own expense as a general helper/assistant? Can someone who happens to be travelling in the area in which a project is working stop off and visit or perhaps lend a hand for a week or two?

No, the teams we send to the field cannot accommodate observers, untrained helpers, interns, students, or others who lack the qualifications and experience to be full participants in the work of the project. Our priority is aiding the populations we are there to serve.

Trainees

Do you have positions on projects for trainees? Do you have positions for medical students doing an elective?

Unfortunately, the conditions encountered on field projects demand the full attention of the teams, and they do not have the time to supervise, monitor and assess trainees and students.

Notice Period

How much notice do I get of an upcoming placement?

Once you are available we try to provide 3 to 4 weeks’ notice. It is very rare that we can give more notice than this.

The less notice you need to be able to go to the field, the more vacancies you can be considered for.

Contract

Do I get a contract?

Yes, Médecins Sans Frontières Australia will sign with you an employment contract.

As an employee, you will receive a salary, superannuation (for Australian residents only; New Zealand residents will receive the equivalent amount as additional salary), comprehensive insurance coverage (including workers compensation), vaccinations and other health-related support, psychosocial support, access to training opportunities, and reimbursement of work-related travel and associated expenses.

 

On assignment

Handover

Do I get a handover infield?

Médecins Sans Frontières' objective is to give you a handover in field. However, it may not always be possible depending on the position, project context, and respective dates of departure of the predecessor and of arrival of the new person.

Holidays

Do you get any type of holiday during the course of an assignment?

Generally, for every 3 months of work you will enjoy one week of holidays. You have the right to the pro rata equivalent of 25 days annual leave, calculated according to the duration of your contract. In addition to annual leave, you may benefit from local in-country public holidays, or additional leave as R&R according to the specific circumstances of your project.

Support Available

What support is available on assignment and after you return from a placement?

In the capital of the country where you will be working, there is a team of experienced field workers, the Country Management Team, who will provide you with support throughout your assignment. You will have access to a technical referent of your specific profession who will be able to give you technical support during your assignment.

At HQ level, there is a desk which also provides support to the teams. Médecins Sans Frontières has extensive protocols, guidelines and reference material available for you.

At the end of your placement Médecins Sans Frontières will provide you with our post-assignment psychosocial support package.

LGBTIQA+

Médecins Sans Frontières is committed to an inclusive culture and welcomes applications from individuals of all genders, ages, sexual orientations, nationalities, races, religions, beliefs, ability status, and all other diversity characteristics.  

In some of the contexts we work, your right to express your sexual orientation and gender identity is not protected as it is in Australia and New Zealand. We encourage you to discuss any concerns you may have with your career manager as early as possible, so we can work together to mitigate any risks associated with a particular assignment. 

 

Career Opportunities

Accreditation To Training

Can I have my time with Médecins Sans Frontières in the field accredited to my post graduate medical specialist training?

It depends. For some Colleges, there is provision for time in the field to be accredited to your medical specialist training. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the Royal Australian College of Physicians will accredit time in the field under certain situations and criteria. For further information, you should contact the relevant college.

Training Courses

Do you run any training courses that those considering applying to go on field projects can take before applying? 

Following a successful interview, Médecins Sans Frontières runs a pre-departure introduction course for new fieldworkers with the potential to depart to the field soon. Successful completion of this training is required before field placement.

There may also be training of a more technical nature prior to their first field placement.

Please be aware that places on all MSF pre-departure courses are limited. Participants are prioritised for courses based primarily on our predicted needs in the field in the coming months, as well as their date of availability for fieldwork. Course lists are generally finalised 4-6 weeks in advance of the course dates.

Please note that Médecins Sans Frontières offers pre-departure training to new fieldworkers following a successful interview only. MSF does not offer training for candidates intending to apply.

Other Courses

Do you recommend any courses that intending applicants can take to improve the likelihood of being selected?

We do not recommend any particular courses. However, there are a number of different courses available that provide good training for working in the field (although no course would guarantee selection). Some examples of these are a Masters of Public Health and Tropical Medicine program run by James Cook University, RedR courses, Bachelor of Humanitarian and Community studies run by Charles Darwin University, Burnet Institute in Melbourne, International Humanitarian Studies, etc.