Monday, August 20, 2012

Education Path for Doctors Without Borders

You may have heard of Doctors Without Borders, but do you know how it started or how you can participate? Find out all about it and more in this guest post by Melissa Miller:


The international medical humanitarian organization was created by French doctors and journalists in 1971 in response to a blockade in the Nigerian Civil War. France was the only major country that supported the newly independent county whose residents were suffering from the blockade. The humanitarian crisis and lack of support from the outside world highlighted a need for a medical organization that would operate without political or religious restraint.

“Every year, Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provides emergency medical care to millions of people caught in crises in more than 60 countries around the world. MSF provides assistance when catastrophic events — such as armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, or natural disasters — overwhelm local health systems. MSF also assists people who face discrimination or neglect from their local health systems or when populations are otherwise excluded from health care.” –Doctors Without Borders Website.

There are a variety of positions that are described as urgently needed – OBGYN’s and surgeons being the most in-demand. For general physicians, however, there are a few specialties that the organization considers highly valuable.


Because Doctors Without Borders is a French organization (Médecins Sans Frontières) speaking French is a major asset to applicants who hope to work with the program.

Tropical Medicine
The field of Tropical Medicine focuses on the health problems of tropical and subtropical regions. Many of these health problems were once endemic in areas of colder climates, but have been controlled or eliminated as those areas have become more developed.

Poor housing, diet, sanitation and personal hygiene cause these infections to remain endemic in tropical areas, making culture, not climate, the factor that perpetuates these diseases. Thus, the field of medicine is also known as “Geographic Medicine” or “Third World Medicine.” Tulane University in New Orleans, LA, is currently the only American school of Tropical Medicine. The school offers undergraduate degree in Public Health, and there are also various specialty fields in the Master’s and Doctoral degrees, one of which is Tropical Medicine.

Many medical schools, like West Virginia University and Johns Hopkins, also offer courses in Tropical Medicine.

HIV/AIDS Specialists
The University of California at San Francisco currently has the highest rank AIDs research institute in the country.  To become an HIV specialist as certified by the American Academy of HIV medicine, you must have completed your residency and must have clinically managed at least 20 HIV patients within 2 years. You must also “demonstrate continuous professional development” through education and re-certification. The paths to satisfying the developmental component will depend on your medical degree.

This guest post is provided by Melissa Miller. She aims to help you understand the challenges and benefits involved in earning
an online associates degree, and show you a way through the often confusing process. She welcomes questions and suggestions at

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