applying with Doctors Without Borders/MSF

Nurses New Nurse


Hello every one.

I wish to get some input because I'm not sure about this.

Uppon getting my BSN/RN licence,I want to sign on with Doctors Without Borders/MSF for a 3 month rotation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.They have a need for nurses with a back ground in Pediatric Orthopedics(3 years of volunteer as a clinical aid at Childrens Hospital ortho dept) and who speaks french.I do.I am also Male,single,no kids,well,my cat,but he can stay with my parents.

My question is,what do y'all think?

I have a burden and passion for kids who are hurting and wish to eventualy be a PACU /ICU nurse at Childrens Hospital.

I have been told " it will be a wonderful experence"," you will learn so much",ect.But the fact is,its no vacation,it is still very,very dangerous,and yes I know I will learn things I could never learn in a clean,safe state side hospital,and the DRC is as stable as stacked wine glasses on an endo board.But I feel,this is somthing I have to do.So your input will be greatly appreciated.


If you'd like to do something MSF, then I'd encourage you to do it. You could always 'get your feet wet' in this type volunteer work with a shorter volunteer trip (eg a week) to a needy area closer to home. Most volunteers are not sent to dangerous areas.

Before spending too much time deliberating, though, do you know if you'd even be qualified to apply for an RN volunteer position without any work experience as an RN? You might want to spend the next year or two focused on growing your nursing practice so you'll have more skills and experience to offer as a volunteer.

Specializes in NICU, PICU, PCVICU and peds oncology.

I agree with jjjoy that you should dot the i's and cross the t's of eligibility to take on this adventure before you get too excited. But having said that, I know many people who have undertaken volunteer work in third world countries, mostly with ICHF, and every single one of them would do it again in a heartbeat. One of our allnurses family PICU nurses has been volunteering with Mercy Ships Africa for two years and when faced with choosing where to live once her commitment was completed earlier this year, chose to sign on for another two years. She couldn't imagine returning to her old life!

Have you even verified that MSF takes new grads? That type of nursing requires people who can walk into a rough situation and do the job, with limited supplies, and think and operate "on the fly." Not the kind of thing most folks expect new grads to be able to do. Signing up as a new grad with an organization like MSF would be like new grad taking a travel agency position only much "worse," and many of us have talked many times here about why new grads working for an agency (whether local or travel) is a really bad idea.

Specializes in med-surg, step-down, ICU/CCU, ED.

Hello James!

That is absolutely awesome you want to work with MSF. I'm sure you will be a great fieldworker, but there are a couple of things you should know (I was a nurse with MSF in 2008 so I'm not making this up in any way):

1- You MUST have at least 2 years of professional experience before they will accept you. Being a hospital volunteer does not count. It must be AT LEAST 2 years as an RN, this is non-negotiable

2-you absolutely CAN NOT choose where you want to be placed. MSF places you where the need is greatest, so if you were actually qualified right now as a french speaking nurse you'd most likely be placed in Haiti. The good thing is that MSF's program in DRC is pretty large so there is a very good chance you'd actually be placed there, although not necessarily working with pediatric ortho pts.

3-your french speaking ability is going to get you placed much faster (after you've gotten your minimum 2 years exp), but you will limit yourself by only being available for 3 months. A 6 month assignment is more typical, although I do know that MSF is working on shortening assignment lengths for folks like you who don't have half a year to dedicate.

4-make sure you get plenty of charge nurse experience once you start practicing as a nurse. During an MSF assignment you will not be working at the bedside but as a supervisor in most cases, and they WILL be looking for some supervisory/training/management experience.

5-get some overseas exp, and not just for a few weeks. It has to be for a few months or so, and in a developing country.

6-as far as security goes, MSF takes every measure to ensure the security of it's personnel. There are no guarantees, of course, but as long as you respect their rules for maintaining security (and there will be many, as you'll see soon enough), you should be ok.

With that said, I encourage you to visit their website and attend one of their information sessions. You can speak to a recruiter who can give you tips on how to make your app stand out once you're qualified (although as a french speaker you will already pretty much stand out. They are constantly short of french speaking field workers).

Good luck and keep the motivation going. MSF was the main reason I decided to become a nurse, and as soon as I met their requirements I was off and running!


Specializes in public health.

Like everybody already said, you need at least a couple of years of experience before you can even apply. Working in a foreign country with limited supplies and overload of patients, you will have to be really really good in order to provide care. Working for MSF is my final goal. I am just a CNA right now but it will happen in ten years. ;)

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