want to be in MSF. What should I do?

  1. 0
    I am currently working in big university hospital for 1 year and 9 month.
    My ultimate goal is to be a nurse in MSF(doctors without borders) someday.

    I got an opportunity from NGO, to work 1 years in Addisababa, Ethiopia. It is voluntary position, pay is half of what I am earning now. The problem is, that position is for OR nurse and I have no OR experience. Program director suggested that I getting solid six month paid orientation in small hospital. But I am not sure I want to work in OR. And leaving the hospital is easy, but getting in is really hard. Thus I decided not to go there.
    Ill find another opportunity after I got my soild 2 year clinical experience.

    But I heard psychiatric nurses are not wanted in MSF.

    So, which way I should go ? going 3rd country and getting more experience? KOICA; Korea international cooperation agency will give me 2 years experience in third world.

    2 years in hospital, 2 years in third world experience will be enough to apply to MSF ?

    Or Id better take this OR opportunity ?
    Or getting another kind of clinical experience, like ICU or ER or OB/GY?

    I am a Korean nurse and it will be different, but want to hear experience from other nurses especially who already work in MSF or other NGO.
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  3. 9 Comments so far...

  4. 0
    I did 2 years with MSF. I am not sure how the Korean offices work it, but MSF is a volunteer organization, so I did not find it to be a sustainable "career". So you can apply to MSF whenever, but its volunteer, not paid work. There is a stipend, but it is not much.
    I Volunteered in S. Sudan and Liberia. Prior to joining MSF, I had worked as a Nurse in Liberia, Eritrea, Nigeria, Panama, Nicaragua etc. I had about 6 years experience in ICU and Emergency in the US. They liked the Emergency exp because a lot of what shows up in MSF is sort of emergent. I also highly recommend management exp, because in MSF nurses are used almost 100% as managers not floor nurses, so you will be supervising local staff- who can be difficult...one day after I arrived our Sudanese staff went on strike...there were 7 of us Ex-pats to run a hospital/L and D and a feeding center...

    I think the very best thing you can do is just call the MSF office and ask them. I did this and was set up from there.
  5. 0
    Hi Sauconyrunner! I had a couple of questions for you if you have the time? I am very interested in working for MSF.

    I am about a year and a half into my nursing career and have worked as an LDRP and newborn & special care nursery nurse during that time. I know MSF requires 2 years of RN experience so I am not quite there yet, but I am thinking ahead because working for MSF has been my dream for years now. I am working overtime at work to try and pay off my student loans fast so I could volunteer for them without any big financial obligations hanging over me. I am also trying to learn French (I speak Spanish fairly well but it seems MSF wants you to speak French), and I am going to begin precepting nursing students in the fall to hopefully get experience "managing or training others."

    Ok so my questions are:

    1) What organization did you work for before MSF?
    2) What requirements did your recruiter seem to value most in your interview?
    3) Did you speak French when you applied?
    4) After you applied and were accepted, how long did it take you to get placed in an assignment? (I am sure that this differs for everyone but I am just curious!)

    If you do have the time to answer these, thank you very much in advance, as well as for the information that you have provided already.
  6. 0
    I worked for a large level one trauma center prior to MSF. I also on and off volunteered through various church organizations and then via word of mouth, got invited to go on several different projects. Once you know someone, they keep you in mind.

    I don't speak French at all. I understand it well, now.

    MSF is a French organization, so they do prefer you speak French. Also Multiple countries in Africa and some in Asia have French as the common language. You would not be considered for missions in places that are French Speaking if you do not speak French. It is a bit limiting, but consider...if you are not a strong French speaker, a 6 month mission where you have to do everything in French...EVERYTHING is going to be very difficult. Much better to not bother to learn it, and go to English Speaking missions. Miscommunication is a huge problem. You will be sitting in meetings where people are speaking in rapid fire French...and making decisions based on that. So...I recommend going to speak English. There were always missions available for me in English speaking areas

    My recruiter liked that I was an Emergency Nurse, that I had experience overseas (working with local staff is not that different than working with staff here, they are OFTEN late, difficult, poor performing etc. ), that I had charge experience (Management) and that I was 1/2 way through a degree in Public Health.

    I would say, I don't know that it is highly competitive to be accepted to volunteer. The thing is, they need to be sure you are of the temperament to stick it out for 6 months in difficult situations that are not ideal. Many people think they are going to show up and the locals are just going to be really happy to see you, and it will be a lot of warm fuzzy feelings. Some days fuzzy feelings, sometimes you wanted to rip out your hair. Plus some places are very remote, so you have no where to go but the compound 24-7...I am pretty sure we could have all been committed to a mental institution on one project, by the end we were all a little off...felt normal til I was in Paris, and then I realized just how insane we all had become...
    I think I interviewed in July or August, was accepted 3-4 weeks later, and then was in Sudan by September. Not so sure on my timeline...
    Your specialty is in high demand! I delivered my first baby with MSF.
  7. 0
    Quote from sauconyrunner
    I worked for a large level one trauma center prior to MSF. I also on and off volunteered through various church organizations and then via word of mouth, got invited to go on several different projects. Once you know someone, they keep you in mind.

    I don't speak French at all. I understand it well, now.

    MSF is a French organization, so they do prefer you speak French. Also Multiple countries in Africa and some in Asia have French as the common language. You would not be considered for missions in places that are French Speaking if you do not speak French. It is a bit limiting, but consider...if you are not a strong French speaker, a 6 month mission where you have to do everything in French...EVERYTHING is going to be very difficult. Much better to not bother to learn it, and go to English Speaking missions. Miscommunication is a huge problem. You will be sitting in meetings where people are speaking in rapid fire French...and making decisions based on that. So...I recommend going to speak English. There were always missions available for me in English speaking areas

    My recruiter liked that I was an Emergency Nurse, that I had experience overseas (working with local staff is not that different than working with staff here, they are OFTEN late, difficult, poor performing etc. ), that I had charge experience (Management) and that I was 1/2 way through a degree in Public Health.

    I would say, I don't know that it is highly competitive to be accepted to volunteer. The thing is, they need to be sure you are of the temperament to stick it out for 6 months in difficult situations that are not ideal. Many people think they are going to show up and the locals are just going to be really happy to see you, and it will be a lot of warm fuzzy feelings. Some days fuzzy feelings, sometimes you wanted to rip out your hair. Plus some places are very remote, so you have no where to go but the compound 24-7...I am pretty sure we could have all been committed to a mental institution on one project, by the end we were all a little off...felt normal til I was in Paris, and then I realized just how insane we all had become...
    I think I interviewed in July or August, was accepted 3-4 weeks later, and then was in Sudan by September. Not so sure on my timeline...
    Your specialty is in high demand! I delivered my first baby with MSF.
    Thank you for the feedback! It is much appreciated. I am planning on applying in January 2013 or beginning of February once I have my 2 years of RN experience. I have looked over the recruitment requirements and I believe that I will meet the minimum requirements...it was the same case when I applied for nursing school, I just met the bare minimum requirements and applied anyways, and got in the first round. I hope that if I apply for MSF and don't get accepted, that I can at least find areas that I can strengthen my application.

    That is encouraging what you said about being "of the temperament to stick it out for 6 months..." That is a big reason why I would like to apply next year. I am not under contract at my current job, I will be 25, and I am single, no kids, financially stable - I could easily commit to a long stint overseas. Not sure if that would be the case 10 years from now. Anyways, thank you again for the feedback. And who knows - perhaps a year from now I will be updating this post to let you know that I am going overseas! Thank you for the feedback and kudos to you for the work that you did with MSF. The world is a better place because of people like you. Cheers!
  8. 0
    As I've posted elsewhere--I thought I was a good candidate for MSF based on their requirements, and did not even get an interview. I think it IS quite competitive, and I've heard this from others, too. They said in the informational session that there are many fewer opportunities open for English-speaking missions (and basically nothing for Spanish). Good luck--but based on my experience, I would work on that French.
  9. 0
    Quote from Wendy79
    As I've posted elsewhere--I thought I was a good candidate for MSF based on their requirements, and did not even get an interview. I think it IS quite competitive, and I've heard this from others, too. They said in the informational session that there are many fewer opportunities open for English-speaking missions (and basically nothing for Spanish). Good luck--but based on my experience, I would work on that French.
    Everyone I know personally who has applied has been accepted to volunteer. Yes there are fewer opportunities for English speaking persons, and also fewer for Americans in general (MSF had several projects in Colombia but not open to Americans due to risks determined, the same for Somalia).
    I only post this not to make light of your situation, but to not discourage people. It also is not the end all be all of overseas volunteering. There are many opportunities out there.
  10. 0
    Hi travelingdorsey,

    where abouts are you from? I am from toronto and am also just completing 2 years or nursing, am 25 and am planning to apply to msf next year. Its making me nervous to hear that people get rejected and that it is competitive. The info session i went to also implied that it is more competitive than i initially thought. DO you have any leadership/managerial experience?
  11. 0
    Hi nadiac13,

    I am from Idaho. The majority of my experience has been full time at a community hospital about 40 minutes outside of Boise, where I take care of antepartum, LDRP, C-section circulating and PACU, nursery (up to level 2 - level 3 gets transferred), and post op GYN surgeries. The hospital is big enough that we get some high risk cases, but small enough that you don't get over specialized in any area - I had a long orientation because we are essentially three units, and I feel VERY fortunate to have that job because it's giving me great experience in more than one specialty. However, last month I also got a PRN job at one of the larger hospitals in Boise, as a labor nurse, so I can get more high risk L&D experience (that hospital has a NICU so anyone who anticipates that her baby will need level 3 care usually delivers there).

    I have leadership experience outside of the hospital. When I graduated high school, I did a 3 month internship with some missionaries in Mexico, and I was in charge of people building houses and running Vacation Bible Schools. In order to get supervisory/training experience in the hospital, I am actually precepting nursing students and new hires (at the community hospital). My boss approved for me to go to a two day training course for how to train nurses, and I went to that last month, which was great. So, I am trying to strengthen my application that way. I wish I could add "charge nurse" to my resume, but at this point, many of the nurses I work with have 20-almost 40 years of experience, so it's not likely that that will happen in the next year. But that's ok! I am trying to work with what I have. And I will probably apply in the next year, and if I get rejected, I will see what areas of my application need to be strengthened.

    What area of nursing do you work in? What info session did you go to? Do you have leadership/manager experience? I think that is one of the hardest application requirements to meet when you're just starting out as an RN. Sounds like we have some similarities in our career goals.
  12. 0
    Thanks for posting everyone, the questions and answers provided a more solid understanding of the type of applicants MSF is looking for.


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