Shadowing a Doctor

March 4, 2015

A student examining surgical scissors in the operating theatre, Tanzania. The British Army is always in need of qualified doctors to care for soldiers and their families. The great part of joining the army as a doctor is that you can join at any stage of your medical career and if you join while you are at university, you will enjoy the additional benefit of financial support during the remaining years of study. This will involve making some kind of commitment though. As a med student in the army, in exchange for a fee waiver you will have to commit to serving for at least 3 years after attaining your commission. You can choose to extend your service period indefinitely if you find your role as a military doctor enjoyable and fulfilling.

Life As A Military Doctor

The primary responsibility of a military doctor is caring for soldiers and their families. While the kind of work done is largely within the scope of general practice, because of the diverse environments in which these doctors work, it is important for them to have knowledge of a much wider range of specialties. This may include:

  • Disaster and conflict medicine
  • Sports and rehabilitation medicine
  • Expedition, altitude, aviation and diving medicine
  • Pre-hospital emergency care
  • Occupational medicine
  • Medical education
  • Clinical leadership

As a military doctor in the British army you will also have several opportunities to develop your leadership skills while planning sports events and overseas expeditions and exercises.

While there may not be much flexibility in choice of location, you will be able to choose from a wide variety of activities from practising casualty evacuation and teaching soldiers to joining army teams during mountaineering expeditions or sports and other training.

As an army doctor you will be required to provide health services to soldiers under all conditions. This means joining the army wherever it goes, even in conflict zones.

Training Involved

It is mandatory for all staff in the British military, including medical professionals, to go through basic training. This is so that all personnel have a better understanding of what it is like to operate in challenging environments alongside others. Before being deployed all doctors undergo special training that enables them to care for the wounded in the field.

Although the scope of practice differs from that of a civilian doctor, all military doctors train and maintain their skills in the NHS so they are never out of touch with civilian practice and integrating into non-military practice is seamless.  

Military Doctor Salary

While doctors in the army earn a similar salary to their counterparts in civilian practice, there are additional attractive financial incentives available to those who join the army either as students or fully qualified doctors. As a medical officer, you may be entitled to a bonus of £50,000 after you’ve completed a year of probation. In addition there are several other perks you get to enjoy as an armed forces member, such as a subsidised train tickets, generous pension and annual leave.