SAMU Learning Unit
Strategic vision and principles of action
2016 - 2019

Strategic Vision:

Contrary to the idea that there is a time to learn and then a time to "act", we support the concept of lifelong learning.

Lifelong learning is an all-embracing process which, at every stage of life, builds on all the situations and contexts we find ourselves in.

Building on experiences becomes an attitude that affects not only work, but also an individual's whole approach to life - in the community, as an activist, in their cultural and intellectual life. These individuals are thus able to cope with professional developments and challenges, changes, disruptions linked to changes, technological developments and all the events affecting their lives and work.

The complexity of the contexts of intervention and the developments in medical practices and in methods of resource management require MSF to be innovative and versatile at all times. To achieve this, the development of skills is an essential strategy in the organisation and fulfillment of its social mission.

The expertise and skills within MSF are well known and sometimes unique in the field of emergency humanitarian medical aid and, more specifically, in the work of the SAMU in the fight against HIV and tuberculosis. We must therefore consider that these skills belong to the organisation and not just to the individuals concerned. As the owner and manager of these resources, it is MSF's duty and responsibility to pass them on to its staff.

Therefore we view the development of skills in the same way as any initiative aimed at reducing or closing the gap between skills already possessed by our staff and those that the organisation is seeking. This disparity should be identified and perceived as a potential for individual development, rather than as a gap.

Whilst knowledge can be acquired during formal training, skills are gained and developed only in work situations. Learning is therefore not confined to a specific period of time, but is a constant process of alternating between periods of work and periods of training. We therefore reaffirm that training also, and first and foremost, takes place whilst at work.

Training is therefore not separate from life at work or indeed from life itself. It is also part of our day-to-day managerial practices, and pertains to everyone's roles and responsibilities – trainers, coordinators, supervisors and learners.

Thus, we reaffirm the following general principles:

  1. Individuals are considered as a whole, both inside and outside of MSF
  2. Learning is a process that takes place over time, throughout life
  3. Skills are the organisation's resources and remain the element in interpretive language that is common to everyone (recruiters, trainers, manager, supervisor, etc.)
  4. Training can be established in parallel:
  • in terms of the organisation's operational strategy and the fulfillment of its social mission
  • in terms of the individual needs of its staff
  1. Recognition of the considerable value of learning in work situations

For further reference, see Charles Jennings' video: 70/20/10