UPDATE Thank you so much for all the questions! A little video thanks! VIDEO

My short bio: NurseJaime My name is Jaime Wah, I am a emergency room nurse based in Toronto. I have done two missions with the medical organisation Doctors Without Borders/ Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF). My first was to help support MSF medical activities in a small remote town in Central African Republic during the coup d’état in 2013. I just recently returned from my second mission which was in the Democratic Republic of Congo, supporting pharmacy activities of a hospital and 8 periphery health centers.

I’m currently enjoying a temporary “retirement” by vacationing with family and chowing down on Chinese food!

Ask me anything! … almost anything, there are some issues I might not know enough about and some specifics about recruiting that I may not be the best to answer, so I am sitting with MSF Canada recruiter Owen Campbell - former MSF logistician - who will answer any recruitment/logistics questions that may come up. (user/MSF_Canada)

Proof Twitter

WAY TOO MSF PIC I am not sure if there is enough MSF in this photo may have to grab a couple stickers. :) The comms guys here clearly thought I needed a intense amount of proof.

Useful Info Please support the two subreddits that help organize this /r/DoctorsWithoutBorders and /r/Nursing

Comments: 223 • Responses: 24  • Date: 

I_am_Bruton_Gaster23 karma

Have you ever been in a position where the conflict directly prevented or hindered your ability to treat specific patients? If so, how did you deal with that or work around restrictions to ensure patients got the care they needed?

NurseJaime29 karma

Thanks for your question! There was a time when I was hunkered down in a safe room with live bullets flying at the same time an operation was going on. I wanted to get supplies and help but it was impossible. At the same time we were treating people that others wanted to kill. We do the best we can but there are limitations and we need to be realistic. At that time we collaborated to the Red Cross who has a mandate to protect vulnerable people. We took care of the medical treatment and they ensured their safety and transfers.

I_am_Bruton_Gaster7 karma

Wow, I can't even what kind of mental stability it takes work and administer medical aid in a situation like that. Thank you, and MSF, for doing such fantastic work.

SkaUrMom9 karma

MSF field workers are a pretty awesome group of people! Thanks for the question!

sabbady15 karma

How do you balance your MSF gigs with life at home?

NurseJaime19 karma

IT'S HARD!! My family is really proud of the work I do but they wish I would choose to do some other type of nursing. I've been away for 7 months and then 6 months. In between I spend a lot of time with them, vacationing, cooking... just being around. When they get used to it I go off again ;P

sabbady5 karma

Thanks Jaime. GREAT work!

SkaUrMom3 karma

Thanks for the question!

karmanaut14 karma

It must be an incredibly depressing job to be a medical professional in the middle of a warzone. What does MSF do to ensure that nurses and doctors don't burn out, emotionally and psychologically?

NurseJaime22 karma

Wow! Intense question! It is true that there is a lot burnt out, MSF makes sure that we get time off (long weekends and vacation) at pretty regular periods so we get a chance to disconnect. There is also a 24hr psychosocial team available to chat if things get really bad and then also psychiatrists available after the mission as well. And you alway have the option to leave if you're really not comfortable! The work can be depressing but also very rewarding to be able to make a real impact in personal way!! For me, I read a lot, exercised and made new friends to chill with!

SkaUrMom7 karma

Great answer!

kltbc12 karma

Do you work in another system between missions? Is your health system OK with this kind of set up, or do you just have to hope it works out? Hopeful future MSF worker here :)

kcarli8 karma

I was wondering the same thing! Do most people make MSF a career path or take leave from a permanent position?

SkaUrMom6 karma

I was wondering the same thing! Do most people make MSF a career path or take leave from a permanent position?

This is a great question for Owen actually!

SkaUrMom4 karma

That must be tough with employers...

BenJester8 karma

Is there one particular question that you're really hoping someone asks? (that's really my question)

SkaUrMom8 karma

" Where can someone ship and 12 cases Steamwhistle to ?"

SkaUrMom3 karma

The good old first date question ;)

part_time_insomniac6 karma

Hi Jaime! Thanks for taking part in this AMA and your work with MSF!

  • Are there any special traits or characteristics that a MSF nurse should have?
  • Do you ever get to vacation in the area you are in? To go along with this, what do you do in your free time?
  • What's a typical day like? How many day a week do you work?
  • Have any cool stories?
  • If I wanted to join MSF, what are the top 3 attributes I can add to my arsenal before I apply?

    Thanks again

SkaUrMom2 karma

This is a great question!

Toby7386036 karma

Hi, thank you for all your great work! Do you think MSF will ever allow paramedics to work overseas??

MSF_Canada10 karma

Hey Toby, MSF does not recruit paramedics. We do recognise paramedics have a lot of valuable skills, but since MSF recruits internationally we recruit professions that are (more or less) standardised in different countries. Also the other big reason is that international fieldworkers are not doing hands on care most of the time. There is a lot of coordination, supervision, training and management involved too. Hope this helps. Cheers, Owen

Toby7386034 karma

Thanks, that does make sense!

SkaUrMom7 karma

Can always apply as a logistician, knowing how to work around medical facilities is a huge plus!

holdmypurse4 karma

Hi Jaime, thanks for the AMA! I'm a registered nurse in the US interested in volunteering with MSF. I have so many questions but I'm going to try to limit it to just 2.

  1. Prior to MSF, how much experience did you have working in resource poor or developing countries? Can you make any recommendations for nurses like me seeking to gain such experience?

  2. Has working for MSF affected how you practice as a nurse in Canada? If you haven't yet returned to practicing in Canada, do you anticipate changes in your approach to nursing?

MSF_Canada5 karma

From a recruitment perspective becoming a nurse with MSF around the world is quite competitive so having more than the minimum criteria is often necessary (http://www.msf.ca/en/nurses) and languages spoken (especially French) come into play. In the US working in rural and remote settings can be a good start or doing short volunteer stints abroad (through your hospital for example) can give you a taste of the what it's like so that when you come to MSF you have some exp. under your belt already.

holdmypurse5 karma

I'm aware that MSF can afford to be highly selective from a competitive pool of experienced candidates. I've never worked for a hospital that includes nurses in volunteer trips and with my lack of volunteer experience I'm having difficulty finding short assignments abroad that aren't voluntourism outfits. Any suggestions?

SkaUrMom3 karma

There are other NGOs that work medical Medishare, Medecins du Monde, ICRC... there are many, but sometimes it's good to go grass roots. The USVI sent a med team post Haiti. Many countries has specific teams like that. Going small is good, like going jogging at night before doing a marathon, lets you feel your strengths and lesser strengths.

SkaUrMom3 karma

There are other NGOs that work medical Medishare, Medecins du Monde, ICRC... there are many, but sometimes it's good to go grass roots. The USVI sent a med team post Haiti. Many countries has specific teams like that. Going small is good, like going jogging at night before doing a marathon, lets you feel your strengths and lesser strengths.

notbelgianbutdutch3 karma

I'm working on a wireless network infrastructure toolkit for sub-saharan and central African countries, are you aware of any organizations operating in the region on (it) networking?

SkaUrMom2 karma

Hmmm this is tough question, the person who might be best to answer is /u/chris_m_h

SkaUrMom2 karma

Hmmm this is tough question, the person who might be best to answer is /u/chris_m_h

PirateDuchess3 karma

What is your most memorable success story?

chris_m_h4 karma

This one sticks with me almost every day since, my last day in Tari, Papua New Guinea: http://blogs.msf.org/en/staff/blogs/chris-is-currently-out-of-the-office/last-days

SkaUrMom2 karma

Love your blog! Air guitar and all :)

UtilityPole3 karma

It sure as heck sounds like an exhausting (but super-rewarding) job. So in the rare event that you have some downtime, what do you and the rest of the MSF do for recreation?

MSF_Canada2 karma

When I was in the field I built a basketball rim out of rebar and parts from a brake pad :). I've also heard of people building volleyball courts. There is also lot of dancing and some drinks for those that partake...I also watched much of 'The Wire' with my team (yes there is electricity!).

SkaUrMom2 karma

Electricity brought to you by Owen, MSF Logistician :)

thomasdelege3 karma

Does MSF accepts students without any medical experience as volunteers who do want medical experience before they want to go to medical school?

SkaUrMom2 karma

I started as a volunteer at the Montreal offices of MSF Canada - great way to really get to know the organization and what is needed as a field worker!

sarahchristinefox3 karma

Hi! I am a nursing student in Canada and I am hoping to work with MSF during my nursing career. Ideally I would like to work with MSF in the near future. What areas of nursing are most sought after by MSF? Any advice is much appreciated! Thanks :)

SkaUrMom2 karma

From a recruitment perspective (it's the same deal in the US as in Canada). There are a number of things you can do: -Be comfortable with both kids and adults. -Have experience working in remote or rural settings (low resource) -Be involved as nursing student in a global health project -If out of nursing schools be involved in short global health volunteer opportunities with other organisations or your hospital -tropical nursing course can be an asset -Languages: learn some French if possible :)

FringeVaginaSciences3 karma

In the Congo, right now, how bad is it really? (We almost never get news, and when we do it's hard to read between the lines.)

MJKauz5 karma

Look up photojournalist Pete Muller. He's been published by Time, NYT, pretty much anywhere. He hits the ground in Goma it feels like once a month and he has strong opinions on the situation.

SkaUrMom3 karma

He's great actually - second.

SkaUrMom3 karma

IMO - there is a whole lot of news but it's the problem of people not caring much. I would suggest following MSF on twitter or the website or what I do is go to Ajazeera

SkaUrMom2 karma

Upvotes for your name too :)

vincalis12 karma

What is the hardest part about working for MSF ?

NurseJaime5 karma

The hardest part for me was living and working with the same small group of people. Having a conflict at work and trying to move past it was pretty challenging! Great question!

SkaUrMom2 karma

That must be a really big challenge that takes up what little energy you have left.

kandikei2 karma

Hi Jaime, Thank you so much for give us the opportunity to ask questions.

I'm currently a MN student with a focus in global health.

I'm really interested in working with MSF. I have 3 years experience in general pediatrics working as an RN. With my current education, it has enhanced my knowledge in global health issues, perspectives, capacity building and program planning.

I was wondering what kinds of role nurses play in MSF missions. For example: is it more clinical, maybe research or program management? How much clinical experience is needed?

MSF_Canada3 karma

To riff off Jaime's response ... if someone wants to make a career with MSF as a nurse there are possibilities to move into coordination/higher responsibility positions as well. Nurses play a vital role in MSF's medical programs around the world.

kandikei3 karma

I guess the first step would be to do fieldwork with MSF. But for these higher leadership positions, what are some of the typical qualifications?

SkaUrMom2 karma

A whole lot of experience. :)