Going on Assignment
Living conditions in the field may be basic, political instability and uncertainty can be a part of daily life
Living conditions in the field may be basic, political instability and uncertainty can be a part of daily life. Local staff and patients will have different social and possibly medical practices and MSF field workers will need to address critical health problems with limited resources within an inadequate infrastructure.
The international team is composed of medical and non-medical field workers, working hand in hand with local staff. An MSF field worker must have more than just technical competence. Success in the field requires excellent collaborative abilities, cultural and social sensitivity, and diplomatic skills. Coping with diverse and sometimes dangerous situations, both on the job and after-hours, requires teamwork – a crucial element of MSF's structure and effectiveness.
Your safety is of critical importance to MSF. Field workers can expect to encounter situations that call for good judgment. In most contexts, MSF's neutrality and the trust it builds with communities serve as an invisible but powerful shield. To help avoid or cope with dangerous situations, all field workers receive an overall security briefing before they leave on mission, followed by additional briefings to the specific context when they arrive. Field workers may leave a mission at any time if they feel their safety is in jeopardy.
Coping with Stress
As an MSF field worker, you are often required to work in extraordinary conditions. You must be able to adapt, function, and deal with shocking situations involving violence, disease, starvation, and death.
A career with MSF
MSF is committed to nurturing expertise and leadership among its personnel and encouraging field workers to stay involved with the organisation beyond their first missions. Nearly half of MSF field workers go on more than one mission; many become project coordinators and others move to work in one of the worldwide offices. Returned field workers may continue to support MSF by becoming members of the MSF South Africa Association after 3 months of field experience.
Psychological Support Network
For some field workers, returning home from a humanitarian mission is relatively easy, for others it can be extremely difficult. Some are overwhelmed by troubling images, thoughts, and memories from the field. . Five sessions of psychological support are offered to anyone who feels they would benefit. The MSF SA office staff are also available to talk through issues.