MSF's primary mandate is to bring emergency medical assistance to populations in need. To reach those who need our help the most, we often work in conflict and post-conflict regions. Each region involves different risks according to the context in which our humanitarian intervention takes place.
As an MSF field worker you will often find yourself in an insecure environment; working in these particular regions implies an inherent risk or danger is present. Apart from the challenges, life on a mission can be full of joy and a learning experience in many ways.
Working in the field with MSF may be very different from anything you have previously experienced. Local staff may also have different social and possibly medical practices that you will need to adapt to, so that you can address patients’ critical health problems with often limited resources.
They may be basic, even rudimentary. If you like to exercise, you might not be able to play your usual sports. But you can get a lot of exercise walking with a donkey carrying material and supplies to run a mobile clinic. You will be in direct contact with the people we're assisting and may find that you need a translator to talk to them.
The international team is composed of medical and non-medical field workers, working hand in hand with local staff. 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 prior to a mission, followed by additional context specific briefings upon arrival.
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 challenging situations involving violence, disease, starvation, and death.
Peer support network
A Peer Support network (PSN), which is accessible to all MSF HK field workers, was formed as an online platform for personal support and experience sharing between members. It allows interaction for the exchange of messages, relevant information and news, facilitates support from experienced field workers to new recruits, as well as provide an avenue for returning field workers to share their stories and feelings. This platform is also used by the Field Human Resource department in updating members on the developments of HR policies, trends and vacancies within the movement.