Advice on Becoming a Doctor and Navy Officer - MO?

WhiteC97

Newbie
Hi guys,

I've done a fair bit of research into the roles in all the forces, not just limited to the navy. Basically, I'm 21 and most way through a Human Biology degree. I want some hands on military experience before I'm too old. I do not wish to stay in conventional units such as just the army or navy, I would like it to be tough and gruelling and I wish to continue to work until I have done a lot. My best idea so far of this based on my current research is to join the Royal Marines and once my couple of years of general duties is done, I would try to get on to the joint special forces selection and serve with either the SBS or SAS for a couple of years before I'm RTU'd.
My other goal is to study graduate-entry medicine (4 years) to become eventually an emergency medicine doctor. The problem is until I'm too old to serve in the military, I want to avoid the NHS as a long term career because civvie street medicine doesn't appeal to me like becoming an MO does; at least not in youth. Now I understand I should be able to apply for cadetship for the final 3 years of my medicine degree with the RN as long as I go straight to train as a medical officer afterwards.

My question is, does this seem like the most efficient use of my time, given my goals and aspirations?
I feel like a better idea on paper would be to skip the whole royal marines and SF regular soldier stuff, go straight into medicine after this degree in a year and a half and get sponsored by the RN to become an MO. The problem with this, although a more efficient use of time and provides better salary than my first scenario, will I not miss all the hands on stuff? I understand an MO is a relatively high-value asset and I wonder if there would even be any point doing the all arms commando course, because if I did serve on ops with the RMs, please correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't imagine leading a troop in operations and deployments, rather I would stay on the ship or set up a medical tent in the field. That is purely speculation as there isn't a wealth of information as to the roles of a commando-trained MO. I just think surely the RM officers would lead the troops out there. The role is called Medical Officer, but I am unsure as to whether it is more being a doctor on a boat looking at commandos storming beach heads, or if it is more leading said soldiers out onto the beaches whilst also providing medical care and training. Lastly then, I assume that I certainly would not be allowed as an MO to undertake selection for the special forces? only because I've heard bits of stories about MO's in the past obscuring their medical qualifications from the SAS in attempt to be allowed on to selection. Although to me that seems impossible as I would have thought there must be cross-communication between your parent unit and the SF to get you onto selection, which I doubt the bit about being a medical officer would fail to be communicated.

I apologise if my last paragraph comes across ignorant, I genuinely am just ill informed and after having spent many weeks on-off researching these things, it seems like a good time to pick the brains of more knowledgeable and experienced individuals I expect to find on this forum. I will also just add I have spent a lot of time reading already published threads but most of the ones relevant to me are about a decade old and I understand a lot of this is now outdated.

Thanks in advance for any replies.
 

wave_dodger

MIA
Book Reviewer
I only know two Doctors who've served with SBS and from them I understand that SF Doctors don't deploy into the field with them (their patrols), they're normally based at the main SF operating base where their Tac HQ is. Thats why the SF medics course is so long, it allows them to be far more self sufficient than a normal Army patrol.

If you join as a Medical Officer (Doctor) expect to be on a large platform (at least DD/FF or submarine) initially, or on the role 2 PCRS FRA ARGUS, or a larger LPD, QEC platform where they have quite extensive medical facilities. You will also work in NHS hospitals as you progress to give you experience/qualifications.

If you pursued the Commando Route you won't spent your time exclusively in that niche, because they'll need to pump more people through. Even in this role you'll be Med Centre/Field Hospital/LPD based, most definitely not leading troops ashore.

I've met an ex-Commando (Cpl) up in the NE who served for 5-7 years, then left and did his medical degree, it was, for him, a long slog and he was a much older Surgical Registrar than his peers and felt it in a number of ways, but he really enjoyed it. I suspect, however, this route requires a lot more effort, perseverance and determination than the more normal route to becoming a doctor.
 
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janner

MIA
Book Reviewer
An interesting read for you would be "Red and Green Life Machine." by the late and well respected Rick Jolly, He was an RN Doc. A lot of the book tells of his time on the Falklands in 1982.
 

Dusty70

Lantern Swinger
Hi I work in the NHS currently - we have quite a few of our Consultants/Doctors and Nurses in the TA/RN Reserve who serve in the Forces part time - one advantage if you are a Doctor is that you go straight in as an Officer (no idea what training involved)

We have a surgeon here who is a Lt Colonel in the TA and has served in Iraq/Afganistan etc
 

Ninja_Stoker

War Hero
Moderator
Anyone in the Naval Service volunteering for UKSF will undertake AACC, so far as I'm aware.

UKSF and UKSF(R) undergo Developed Vetting, so there's not much point not declaring qualifications.

Only Direct entry RM Officers undertake the role of Troop Commander and even then usually only for a year, two years tops if BRF. Thereafter, the clue is in the job title.

RMR or SAS(R) is probably a good option whilst at Uni. Being Superman & Batman simultaneously is not an easy undertaking - trust me on that one :)

Last time I looked, there were only a couple of Medical Cadetships available in 2019/20.
 

WhiteC97

Newbie
Anyone in the Naval Service volunteering for UKSF will undertake AACC, so far as I'm aware.

UKSF and UKSF(R) undergo Developed Vetting, so there's not much point not declaring qualifications.

Only Direct entry RM Officers undertake the role of Troop Commander and even then usually only for a year, two years tops if BRF. Thereafter, the clue is in the job title.

RMR or SAS(R) is probably a good option whilst at Uni. Being Superman & Batman simultaneously is not an easy undertaking - trust me on that one :)

Last time I looked, there were only a couple of Medical Cadetships available in 2019/20.
Thank you to everybody for taking the time to reply, it helps me out a lot and for which I am very grateful. I am humbled to receive the time of such high-profile members. :)

With particular reference to your last sentence @Ninja_Stoker does this method of joining appear to be essentially redundant to most doctors in training in your opinion? I was under the impression it was more of a widespread programme in which an application would have a high likelihood for success, provided the applicant has at least shown dedication to the forces by way of RMR, RNR or SAS(R) service prior to the application and has also demonstrated high academic achievement; if I happen to achieve my target of a 1st class honours in my current degree. However, due to your indication of the former, this worries me because if I was to go down the route of direct entry to the MO role as a trained doctor, being required to complete foundation training before my application, I will be nearing 27/28 years of age. It will then be at least a couple of years before I can undertake the AACC at the earliest prospective age of 30. Whilst I understand this can be completed up to the age of 33, isn't it a case of very few and far between passing out? I apologise when I reference channel 4's RM commando school as I know it is edited for entertainment purposes, but it is the limited insight I have to commando training and I seem to remember any recruit over their late 20s not passing out. Is this an accurate representation of the older end of the age spectrum's success rate?

Lastly, am I correct in interpreting the general feedback as, I may make the decision to get my hands dirty before my medicine degree by for example joining the Royal Marines as a commando and volunteering to UKSF after general duties. Then after serving my time, do my medicine degree and join the navy as a direct-entry medical officer for the foreseeable future of my career; although I'd be much older, I will have done the adventuring and gruelling work before my degree so wouldn't much mind the lack of action. Which brings me to my final question, if I served at least my minimum return of service with the RM before leaving to pursue medical training - upon joining the navy afterwards as an MO, would I have to do the AACC to "re-earn" my green beret and would I have to undergo basic training again? I only ask because RN basic training is different to the RM and also because my time out of service will be quite a few years before returning, I assume my skills must be re-tested.

Apologies for badgering on, I would just like to turn up to my AFCO with all the ammunition I need so to speak! But it also helps to motivate me to keep going having clear goals and a foolproof pathway to achieve them, with great help from you gents.

Thanks again in advance for any replies.
 

Ninja_Stoker

War Hero
Moderator
Thank you to everybody for taking the time to reply, it helps me out a lot and for which I am very grateful. I am humbled to receive the time of such high-profile members. :)

With particular reference to your last sentence @Ninja_Stoker does this method of joining appear to be essentially redundant to most doctors in training in your opinion? I was under the impression it was more of a widespread programme in which an application would have a high likelihood for success, provided the applicant has at least shown dedication to the forces by way of RMR, RNR or SAS(R) service prior to the application and has also demonstrated high academic achievement; if I happen to achieve my target of a 1st class honours in my current degree. However, due to your indication of the former, this worries me because if I was to go down the route of direct entry to the MO role as a trained doctor, being required to complete foundation training before my application, I will be nearing 27/28 years of age. It will then be at least a couple of years before I can undertake the AACC at the earliest prospective age of 30. Whilst I understand this can be completed up to the age of 33, isn't it a case of very few and far between passing out? I apologise when I reference channel 4's RM commando school as I know it is edited for entertainment purposes, but it is the limited insight I have to commando training and I seem to remember any recruit over their late 20s not passing out. Is this an accurate representation of the older end of the age spectrum's success rate?

Lastly, am I correct in interpreting the general feedback as, I may make the decision to get my hands dirty before my medicine degree by for example joining the Royal Marines as a commando and volunteering to UKSF after general duties. Then after serving my time, do my medicine degree and join the navy as a direct-entry medical officer for the foreseeable future of my career; although I'd be much older, I will have done the adventuring and gruelling work before my degree so wouldn't much mind the lack of action. Which brings me to my final question, if I served at least my minimum return of service with the RM before leaving to pursue medical training - upon joining the navy afterwards as an MO, would I have to do the AACC to "re-earn" my green beret and would I have to undergo basic training again? I only ask because RN basic training is different to the RM and also because my time out of service will be quite a few years before returning, I assume my skills must be re-tested.

Apologies for badgering on, I would just like to turn up to my AFCO with all the ammunition I need so to speak! But it also helps to motivate me to keep going having clear goals and a foolproof pathway to achieve them, with great help from you gents.

Thanks again in advance for any replies.
To be honest, I always thought most Med Students who applied, got a Cadetship, so I was surprised to see they were only offering a couple of places, but would certainly encourage you to apply for one.

Your AFCO will process you for entry in any role you like, regardless of qualifications, as long as you are eligible. I've put a GP in the RNR as a rating because he didn't want to be an officer or a medic in his spare time. The RN/RNR/RM/RMR don't recruit directly into UKSF or UKSF(R), apart from SF re-entrants.

RM Recruit Training does have about twice the average fail rate for over 30's (and Under 18s).

Trained Surgeons can join up to age 46, so joining the Royal Marines first would be the most obvious route to UKSF - 40% of UKSF are Royal Marines anyway.

Minimum service as an RM Other Rank is 50 months (assuming no training injuries). Most do about 18-24 months General Duties before specialising. If you want to be the guy kicking doors down, storming embassies and being on the sharp end, Other Rank offers more and longer opportunities than Officer.

If you leave the Royal Marines as a trained rank and return to join the RN as a Medical Officer, you'd still do a couple of terms in Dartmouth, but you could influence your appointments toward 3 Commando & would still be commando qualified.
 
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