Surgical Care Referent

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international humanitarian aid organization that provides assistance in more than 60 countries to populations in distress, to victims of natural or manmade disasters and to victims of armed conflicts, without discrimination and irrespective of origin, religion, creed or political affiliation.

Surgical Care Referent (m/f/x)


The OCB Medical Department

The medical department’s strategy aims that OCB operational projects can combine serving the most vulnerable populations, meeting the health needs of the targeted population whilst delivering high impact medical and humanitarian interventions. The new framework of the med department and operations has 5 Medical Priorities: Child health, Epidemics, HIV/TB, Trauma and Victims of Violence and Women’s health.

The medical department is composed of medical staff working in operational cells in a matrix set-up with the operation’s department and medical referents of different medical disciplines: Infectious diseases; HIV/Aids and Hepatitis C; Sexual and Reproductive Health; Emergency and Intensive Care, Anaesthesia, Surgery, Paediatrics, Nutrition; Pharmacy and Biomedical expertise; Mental Health; Nursing care and IPC; Health Promotion; Environmental health; Operational Research; Health information and medical data; MSF Academy for Healthcare.

The medical department is a network of units, in Brussels - the Brussels Medical Unit (BRUMED), in Cape Town - the Southern African Medical Unit (SAMU), in Luxembourg - the Luxembourg Operational Research unit (LuxOR), in Beirut - the Middle East Medical Unit (MEMU). In the coming years, OCB has a willingness to encourage more people to work outside Brussels to develop towards a more networked OC of Operational Hubs and Centres of medical expertise or regional medical support that will be located closer to operations and to the existing regional expertise that can benefit MSF globally.

To enhance multidisciplinary and interdepartmental work, the department is organized in “thematic circles”, which can be given a short- or long-term assignment. Each referent has a role in multiple circles. Main circles existing currently are the migration health circle, the primary health care circle, the outbreak control circle, the knowledge management circle, etc. Most of the medical referents participate also in International Medical Working Groups on MSF movement level.

Surgical care alongside anesthesia, orthopedics, obstetrics & gynecology, emergency medicine, toxicology and critical care is hosted under one of the medical department circles. It was created in response to the need to coordinate the support provided to these medical activities in the field. Areas of priorities for 2020-2023 are defined in 3 main documents, the OCB Strategic Orientations, the Operational Prospects and the Medical Department Strategy Paper.

The position is a response to the increased needs and ambitions for the coming years in the field of surgical care, transversally across the medical priorities.


She/he will provide support in the design, the implementation and the follow up for surgical activities in our projects.

The surgical care adviser will work with the support of the circle, this to ensure coordination and collaboration between these interconnected surgical and medical activities.

She/he will liaise with other advisers in the medical department, with medical officers and deputy operations coordinators in the operations department, and the teams in the field.

Description of activities

  • Support the operations department on regular projects with a surgical care component
  • Supports the Emergency Pool in the design and the rapid setup of surgical activities in emergencies
  • On request, conduct field visits and assist in the set-up and implementation of surgical care in the field, evaluation of the project capacity and provide clear recommendations
  • Fills the surgeon position in a project from time to time, to stay connected with the field reality of surgery and maintain technical skills.
  • Support international and/or national staff performing surgical care in the field by close follow-up of their activities by supervision and periodical evaluations. Contribute also in the surgical knowledge in the field.
  • Performs briefing and debriefings of staff involved in surgical care activities
  • Respond to technical and strategic questions from the field and the operations department
  • Contribute in the creation and up-date of technical documents relevant to the provided surgical care in the field:
    • Guidelines and technical papers adapted to MSF field context.
    • Collaborate in the update of protocols and its dissemination through the projects with surgical care activities.
    • Up-date regularly the online database on protocols, technical documentation and most frequently asked question. Also contribute in the briefing documents for international surgical specialists.
    • Contribute in the update of the policy for surgical activities.
  • Capitalize the MSF-OCB experience in providing surgical care. By this, promote innovative acquired experiences and knowledge.
  • Develop new strategies in surgical care activities to respond to new MSF-OCB operational challenges. Capacity building for delivery of new specific surgical care activities.
  • Introduce newly appropriated surgical techniques, adapted to MSF reality, beyond the commonly used to respond better to field demands
  • Ensures the monitoring of OCB surgical care activities in general. Contributes to the follow-up and the evaluation of quality control of surgical care activities through indicators
  • Implement specific data collection tools for non-standard surgical care activities and prepare and report the annual surgical activity report.
  • Is a member of the intersectional surgery working group, Participates to meetings of the working group, the circles and other working groups as necessary
  • Participate in internal and external trainings. Contribute in the organization and realization of specific training courses within MSF-OCB, and when needed, give lectures/modules upon request.
  • Build a network with international societies, relevant to MSF work context (humanitarian surgery, surgical societies in countries of operations, etc.)
  • Set-up and maintain an external network to maintain MSF-OCB knowledge in specific topics in order to continuously improve surgical care
  • Encourage and support operational research based on the benefits for the patients and the populations we are working with

Communication and interaction

  • The Surgical Care Referent reports to the Medical Director
  • The Surgical Care Referent should keep informed the Medical and Operational departments on surgical activities with regular updates
  • Direct contact between the Surgical Care Referent and the field teams is encouraged. To ensure a smooth follow up of recommendations, it is good practice to keep the medical officer cell, the medical coordinator and the cell responsible in copy and actively involved in the communication. 
  • Staff in projects can directly contact the Surgical Care Referent. Decisions at field level, based on recommendations made by the Surgical Care Referent, will then need to be discussed with the project medical referent.


Education & Experience

  • Medical Doctor with specialization in General, Visceral, Vascular or Pediatric Surgery (completed surgical residency/training, board certification or equivalent)
  • Background in public health an asset (MPH or similar)
  • Significant experience providing surgical care in low- and middle-income countries (2 years’ experience, multiple short-missions or equivalent)
  • Minimum of 5 years’ clinical experience post-training working clinically as a surgeon (attending/consultant level or equivalent)
  • 1-year MSF experience as surgeon or equivalent
  • Management experience (i.e. as head of a surgical unit) is an asset. Strong ability to bring a holistic view to surgical activities (Pre-op, Post-op, sterilization, nursing care, outpatient follow up, medical equipment, anesthesia, critical care, and other interdependencies…).
  • Prior experience with the creation or implementation of policy/guidelines an asset


  • Skills in supervision, teaching and evaluation is needed
  • Ability to work as a team member (Circle) and as a leader when appropriate
  • Training and communication skills highly appreciated
  • Ability to work in a diverse and multicultural team
  • Knowledge of informatics tools: Word, Power point and Excel is important. Basic knowledge of statistics an asset.


  • Fluent knowledge of English. Good knowledge of French and knowledge of another language linked to our activities (Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese) is an asset.


  • Large availability for travel (1/4 to 1/3 of the time), including in insecure contexts


  • Expected starting date: December 1, 2021
  • Contract type: Fixed-term contract for the first 2 years followed by a potential open-ended contract, full-time
  • Location: based in Brussels but with frequent travel to the field (25-30%)
  • Salary according to MSF-OCB HQ grid – Hospital Insurance (DKV) – Pension Plan – 100% reimbursement for public transportation costs
  • Adhere to the MSF principles and to our managerial values: Respect, Transparency, Integrity, Accountability, Trust and Empowerment
  • Adhere to the MSF Behavioral Commitments

Deadline for applications: November 3rd, 2021

How to apply?

Please, send your CV and cover letter to and mention “Surgical Care referent” in the subject of your email.

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

MSF values diversity and is committed to create an inclusive working environment. We welcome applications from all qualified candidates regardless of disability, gender identity, marital or civil partnership status, race, color or ethnic and national origins, religion or belief, or sexual orientation.

The protection of your personal data is important to MSF. By submitting your application, you consent to MSF using your personal data. For more information, consult our privacy notice to job applicants.