Doctors Without Borders Pay: What They Make And Why They Do It

Doctors Without Borders, also known as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), is renowned for sending medical professionals around the globe to provide aid where it’s needed most. But with its dangerous missions abroad, many wonder – what does Doctors Without Borders pay their physicians and staff?

And why do they do it?

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: Doctors Without Borders does not actually pay doctors a salary for their work. Instead, they cover travel costs, living expenses, medical insurance, vaccinations and provide a stipend that averages around $1,600 per month while in the field.

In this approximately 3000 word guide, we’ll cover every aspect of Doctors Without Borders pay and benefits, from stipends to insurance. We’ll look at how much they pay nurses, specialists, and other staff positions.

And most importantly, we’ll investigate why MSF doctors and nurses decide to work for little to no pay in often dangerous conditions abroad.

Doctors Without Borders Physician Pay and Benefits

No Salary, Just a Modest Stipend

When it comes to compensation, Doctors Without Borders operates on a unique model. Unlike traditional healthcare organizations, they do not offer a fixed salary to their physicians. Instead, doctors who work with the organization receive a modest stipend.

This stipend is intended to cover basic living expenses while on assignment, allowing physicians to focus on their humanitarian work without the burden of financial concerns.

It’s important to note that the stipend provided by Doctors Without Borders may vary depending on factors such as location, experience, and specialty. While it may not match the salaries that physicians in developed countries are accustomed to, many doctors find the opportunity to make a difference in underserved communities around the world to be a rewarding trade-off.

Insurance and Expense Coverage

Doctors Without Borders understands the risks and challenges that come with working in areas affected by conflict, epidemics, and natural disasters. To support their physicians, the organization provides comprehensive insurance coverage.

This includes medical, dental, and liability insurance, as well as coverage for disability and life insurance.

In addition to insurance, Doctors Without Borders also covers various expenses related to assignments. This can include travel expenses, accommodations, and daily living expenses while in the field. By providing this support, the organization aims to alleviate financial burdens and ensure that physicians can focus on providing essential medical care to those in need.

For more detailed information about Doctors Without Borders’ physician pay and benefits, you can visit their official website at

Average Salaries for Nurses and Other Staff

Nurses and Midwives

Nurses and midwives play a crucial role in the work of Doctors Without Borders (MSF). They provide essential medical care and support in some of the most challenging environments around the world. The salaries for nurses and midwives with MSF vary depending on factors such as experience, location, and the specific project they are assigned to.

On average, however, nurses and midwives with MSF can expect to earn a competitive salary that reflects their dedication and expertise.

According to data from, the average salary for a nurse with MSF is around $65,000 per year. However, it’s important to note that this figure can vary significantly depending on factors such as the nurse’s level of experience, the country they are working in, and the length of their contract.

Nurses who have specialized skills or experience in areas such as emergency medicine or pediatrics may also receive higher salaries.

Working with MSF as a nurse or midwife offers unique opportunities for professional growth and development. Nurses have the chance to work in diverse and challenging environments, providing life-saving care to those who need it most.

It’s not just about the salary, but also the fulfillment that comes with making a real difference in people’s lives.

Logistics and Administrative Staff

In addition to nurses and midwives, Doctors Without Borders relies on a dedicated team of logistics and administrative staff to support their operations. These individuals ensure that medical supplies and equipment are properly managed, logistics are coordinated, and administrative tasks are handled efficiently.

The salaries for logistics and administrative staff with MSF can vary depending on their role and level of experience. According to data from, the average salary for a logistics coordinator with MSF is around $60,000 per year.

However, it’s important to note that salaries can vary based on factors such as location and the specific responsibilities of the role.

Working in logistics and administration with MSF offers a unique opportunity to contribute to the organization’s mission in a different capacity. These roles are essential for ensuring the smooth operation of MSF’s projects and the delivery of vital medical care to those in need.

To learn more about salaries and job opportunities with Doctors Without Borders, you can visit their official website at

Why MSF Workers Forgo Pay for Hardship

Working for Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is not just a job; it is a calling that requires dedication, selflessness, and a willingness to put oneself in challenging and often dangerous situations. Many MSF workers choose to forgo a regular paycheck in exchange for the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those in need.

Here are some of the reasons why these brave individuals choose to work for MSF, despite the hardships they may face:

Desire to Help Others

At the heart of every MSF worker’s decision to join the organization is a deep-seated desire to help others. These individuals have a strong sense of empathy and compassion, and they are driven by the belief that everyone deserves access to quality healthcare, regardless of their circumstances.

They are willing to make personal sacrifices to provide medical assistance to those who need it most, often in conflict zones or areas affected by natural disasters.

According to a recent survey conducted by MSF, nearly 90% of their workers cited the desire to make a positive impact on people’s lives as their primary motivation for joining the organization. This overwhelming sense of purpose and the opportunity to directly contribute to saving lives is what drives many MSF workers to continue their work, even in the face of adversity.

Adventure and Unique Experiences

Working for MSF offers a unique opportunity for adventure and personal growth. MSF workers are often deployed to remote and challenging environments, where they must adapt to unfamiliar cultures, languages, and medical practices.

This can be both challenging and rewarding, as it allows them to broaden their horizons, learn new skills, and develop a deeper understanding of the world around them.

MSF workers often find themselves working in areas that are off the beaten path, where they may encounter situations that they would never experience in their home countries. These experiences can be life-changing and provide a sense of fulfillment and personal growth that is hard to find in other professions.

Building Medical and Life Skills

Working for MSF provides healthcare professionals with the opportunity to expand their medical knowledge and skills in ways that they may not be able to do in their regular jobs. In resource-limited settings, MSF workers are often required to think creatively and find innovative solutions to provide the best possible care with limited resources.

MSF workers gain valuable experience in handling medical emergencies, performing surgeries, and managing public health programs. They learn to work effectively in high-stress environments and develop strong leadership and teamwork skills.

These skills not only benefit their work with MSF but also enhance their professional growth and make them more resilient and adaptable healthcare providers.

Requirements to Volunteer with Doctors Without Borders

Volunteering with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is a noble and rewarding endeavor. However, it is important to note that not everyone can simply sign up and join the organization. There are certain requirements that individuals must meet in order to be considered for a volunteer position.

Medical Credentials and Experience

One of the primary requirements to volunteer with Doctors Without Borders is having the necessary medical credentials and experience. This is crucial because MSF aims to provide the highest level of medical care to those in need.

Typically, volunteers are required to have a medical degree or be enrolled in a medical program. In addition to formal education, practical experience in relevant medical fields such as emergency medicine, infectious diseases, or surgery is highly valued.

Medical professionals who have experience working in resource-limited settings or in areas affected by conflict or natural disasters are particularly sought after. These individuals possess the skills and adaptability needed to work under challenging conditions and in unfamiliar environments.

Application and Interview Process

Once an individual has met the necessary medical requirements, they can proceed with the application process. The application typically includes submitting a resume, completing a detailed questionnaire, and providing references.

It is important to note that the demand for volunteer positions with Doctors Without Borders is high, so the application process can be competitive.

After the initial screening, selected candidates are invited for an interview. This interview may be conducted in person or via video call. During the interview, candidates are assessed on their motivation, commitment, flexibility, and ability to work in a team.

The interviewers also evaluate the candidate’s understanding of MSF’s principles and their willingness to adhere to them.

Successful candidates are then invited to participate in a comprehensive training program. This training equips volunteers with the skills and knowledge necessary to work effectively in the field. It covers topics such as emergency medical care, cultural sensitivity, security protocols, and the organization’s operational guidelines.


In summary, Doctors Without Borders does not offer a salary for physicians, nurses, or other medical staff. However, they provide modest stipends, full insurance coverage, travel arrangements, and living expenses to enable volunteers to provide medical care to those in need around the world.

While it may seem surprising that Doctors Without Borders workers are willing to risk their lives for little pay, many are drawn by the chance to save lives, have unique experiences, and build their skills where help is needed most.

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