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Career Question for medics.


Hey everyone, I'm thinking of joining up as a medic in the Royal Navy and was just wondering what being a medic was really like? I'm still not completely sure which branch i want to join as as too many of those available interest me. Any help you could give you be greatly appreciated.


War Hero
Well,when i joined upi never had the pleasure of a sea draft,so i spent my time at Haslar on various wards and Depts.Had a great time.In 82 just before the FI i was attached to the Blues and Royals in windsor for the Ambulance strike!It was brilliant!The brown jobs just didnt know how to deal with us!WFT was revaille all about??????Being an MA afloat is pretty much like working in a Sickbay ashore but a bit wetter.Also should an Emergency (Tsunami etc)occur and your on hand then you will be assisting ashore setting up all manner of stuff,Medical facilities and other stuff that comes under MOFA or Medical Organisation for Action(landing parties etc)We used to have great fun doing Firat Aid training for other branches,giving peeps really nasty looking wounds with loads of fake blood!I enjoyed my PJT X Ray course,most interesting and a lot of fun films to see.Also Light rescue(casualty evacuation)was a hoot,during one excersise in Dolphin2 we were getting a casualty off a roof using an old War Pattern stretcher and some rope(was the most scabbiest bit i ever saw)the rope broke as the casulaty was vertical going down the wall.As the rope snapped around his chest he fell forward but managed to grab a bit of rope in passing.Luckily he landed on his feet still clutching the rope.eventually he let go as he fainted!A REAL casualty at last!
If youre out there Pony,do you remember this?????
I eventually went on to do my RGN Nurses training and my MA training was of massive help in making the course!I worked in ITU and CCU for 12 years before joining the Drugs Industry as a rep making HUGE amounts of dosh!
If i had my time again i wouldnt have changed t at all!Go for it Shippers!


Hey mate thanks for that. From a post that you put on another topic that you where never posted to a ship, i was hoping that this may have been by choice or something that rarely happens, as i would hate to spend the entire navy career ashore, as obviously travelling around the world is on of the reason i'm joining, and giving aid to those across the globe hit by natural disasters for example is something i'd be very keen on.


War Hero
it was a bit of both me being happy ashore and the RN selling off ships faster than you could photgraph them. :eek: :eek: At the time Haslar was one of the 1st establishments to give Junior Rates a single Cabin.To be honest i was quite happy working on an Orthopeadic ward and doing the odd stint to help out in the Psychiatric unit.Given the loss of the RNH's you will have a much greater chance to get to Sea than i did.I enjoyed the whole of my training immensly and if you make the right decision i hope you will enjoy it as well.Just make sure you have mugged up on your Anatomy and Physilogy and First aid,they will help you a lot.Any further info drop me a PM or email.When do you intend joining?
Join as an MA mate. You'll have a grin.

You can be general service i.e ships, submariner, commando, operating theatre practitioner. Your job will be a varied as you want it to be. As a baby MA there are only 5 sea drafts but once you get your killicks up then you will be sent to sea on your own looking after the entire ships company. plus you'll be one of the few people on board who can actually ask the skipper to alter course to allow you to land a casualty, not bad a killick telling a four ringer what to do. That said for a baby MA you could work at CDO LOGS reg which would put you in various areas around the globe, including sunny sennebridge!

Should you then want to progress you can get your ODP course and work in theatres, or you can apply for a radiology course, a pharmacy course your nursing course or even go grunter and become an officer.
Your basic training is carried out in Raleigh then you will be taken to Aldershot to do your medics training this will last for about a year with you going from Aldershot to plymouth or portsmouth based hospitals and back doing theory and practical training. You will then do your part iv training this can be done anywhere within the fleet, and is basically your consolidation period. After that your career is your own and its upto how far you go.

Derriford hospital is running a meet the navy couple of days soon so if you wanted to talk to MA's that would be best for you.


Hey jolly_jack69, thanks very much for that extra advice. My mind is definately made up now and I will try and join as a MA. Unfortunately Derriford Hospital is not possible for me as I live in Northern Ireland and regretably there aren't really any meet the navy things over here, unless you ring up the barracks and wait for an appointment then travel over 60miles to get there to ask a question, lol. Thankfully this site, and you guys have help me a great deal in making my mind up.

Just one slight question if i can, how in depth is an MA's training?


War Hero
The MA's training used to be one of the longest Non Artificer training,it was as long as the old SEN's training was.Its not the easiest in the world but we had some right numpties in my class and they managed to pass.When you go to the recruiting center and take your entrance test if you dont score high enough then MA training wont be an option.its a hard training regime but it has to be.I remember staying up late learning all my F Med's and their titles.We used to have a test on friday,if you passed you got weekenders,fail you stayed on board and took a retake!
You hae to learn Anatomy and Physiology,Pharmacy and Storekeeping,Medical Organisation for Action,Basic Nursing procedures,Light rescue,then learn to Diagnose then treat the patient along with minor Surgical procedures.On my 1st draft i was at Mercury on my 1st duty weekend when the bell rang.It was some Officer that had nutted a Cricket ball and had a nasty gash over his eye.A few stitches later and a HI card he went off rejoicing.i found out later on that it was the Skipper!Did a bloody good job(so the MO said on removing the sutures)if i say so meself.see if you can get hold of a BR888 Naval Medical Ratings Handbook.That will help you before hand.Just remember theyre not looking for a budding brain surgeon!
You will be examined on every theory block you attend and you have to pass every exam else you will be back classed or worse case you will be kicked out of training. The knowledge you need is quite in depth but if you get hold of a copy of ross and wilson anatomy and physiology it will give you an idea of what you need to know. Its one of the books used on course. Plus a health safety first aid manual would give you a heads up for the 1st aid exam. After that is Medical Organisation at sea etc and those subjects will be taught on course. Oh and learn to iron your kit you'll need it for Raleigh along with a sense of humour!


War Hero
In WH Smiths they have have 2 books that are a must.It will sound stupid but it works.They are the Anatomy and Physiology Colouring books!Basically you read and colour each page and as you go the info gets inside your head and stays there.I have used these books with many student Nurses that have had trouble getting to grips with A&P.One tip is to put stuff you want to learn on a pice of A4 and tape it to the bog walls and door,you will be amazed how fast you will learn whats on the paper,i learnt the Mental Health Act in les than a week and could almost spout it out verbatim!When you do your block theory tests just remember it to see if youve taken it all in not to fail you.


thanks for that. I ordered the book after your suggestion and it only arrived yesturday, so cheers.

Looks interesting and not too hard, lol


War Hero
Try and get hold of a BR888 medical ratings Handbook.That will also help you with stuff like Medical Admin,all the forms and their numbers,of which you will have to learn!Enjoy!
I throughly enjoyed my time in the navy as an MA, but from the point of view of a career outside, if you have enough quals to do ODP or RGN training, then I would stongly advise you to do that. I did go to sea and saw a little bit of the world (well, the Med anyway!), but if seeing the world is your reason for joining then don't expect to be off travelling all the time. I was in 7 years and had 1 trip abroad in that time, the rest was either Plymouth or Portsmouth(Gosport).

I am a student nurse outside now, and the MA course is really standing me in good stead, but I wish I had done this at 17 instead!! Good luck with whatever you decide!


War Hero
Sounds like you had just about the same career as me,simon.Except i never did Seatime.Afterleaving i did my RGN within 5 years,and the MA traing really helped a lot.I eventually ended up in ITU/CCU for 15 years.
Hi yes does sound similar, I can't say I regret being an MA as I had a fantastic time, but I was kind of pressured into it by the RN careers office as was more than qualified to join as student nurse but was only 16, they told me how easy it would be to transfer over if I joined as an MA, only of course it's not as easy to branch change once in, hence a student nurse outside now struggling on a bursary!!!!

My MA training really helps me though with my nurse training especially with the basics of A&P, and people outside can't comprehend the level of responsibility that goes with being an MA. I look back on it now as an invaluable apprenticeship that has given me a springboard onto my nurse training (although I know lots of MAs will jump on me for saying that!) 8O


War Hero
Not me shippers,it was a godsend!Loved being sble to read Xrays better than the A&E officer we had!LOLFunny thing was on my 1st ward,which was an Orthopaedic one i knew more than the trained staff nurse.I spent 5 years on c3 ward at haslar,so had a bit of experience.Where are you doing your Training?
Hi, I am training at the Portsmouth campus of Southampton University. Just coming to the end of first year now, I've been out of the RN for 9 years now but it's amazing how the memory retains information!


Hey there guys. Well i was thinking that when i eventually left the navy i would be able to get a career as a paramedic with my RN Medics training and experience. Is this a correct assumption or would i still have to do more training?

I'll know for sure if i can get in as a medic at the end of the month when i sit my test. :?


Lantern Swinger
RNMA thats a bit of a sticky subject. As an MA you will not be qualified as registered civilian Paramedic. Its a shame as MAs training and experience is substantial.
There may be some areas where you could possibly pick up your Para reg, attached to Poole perhaps. BUT the stock answer is no.
Some local authorities do recognise MAs experience and service quals and offer a "fast track" to paramedic career path, which still involves working through basic EMT courses, but being loaded on an EMT-P course after about a year

My best advise is get in as an MA, work hard and shine at Keogh barracks (Defence medical training center, tri service) you'll be surrounded by RAF and Army medics for the first three months so shining shouldn't be a problem!!

Keogh also makes you realise what a good career choice you made!

It doesn't take the brains of an archbishop to pass but enthusiasm and interest will take you along way.

If you perform well you may get a choice of draft for your part 4 training.

MA is the best job in the mob if you enjoy it. You can have a crack at subs or commando, if you want to see the world you need to perform well get promoted and get yourself to sea, alternatively volunteer for Commando MA and work with Royal (The best job a matelot can get)

ODP/nursing etc come as possible options later, you may even get pinged as a dental faggot, personally I wouldn't do either (No offence to ODPs and Nurses)

Don't worry about the BR*****8 b_llocks that all comes later, but its wise to get anatomy and physiology in your heed!!

may the force be with you



Hello mate as far as a carreer in the medical branch goes DONT DO IT!!! things have changed massively over past few years. Training is tri service much to the detriment of the RN Medical Branch. You will join up to serve as a marine (Submarine or Royal Marine) like it or not.
If you really want a carreer in medicine you'd be better joining as a nurse or med tech' you cannot join as an ODP directly in the RN (You can in the RAF/Army) as an RNMA you will spend most of your time once, qualified shuffling bits of paper in one of the large sickbays not being allowed to do anything clinical, yet when you go to sea you will be expected to be all singing and dancing. You will find there is very little in the way of support from Doctors, who really have no idea of what an MA does anyway.
Give it some serious thought I have been in the RN 21 years and have found that as a branch we are becoming more and more marginalized, with event of clinical governance and lack of recognised qualifications in civvy street. It is only a matter of time before MA will stand for Medical Administrator and not Medical Assistant
Hi, whilst not wishing to put you off RNMA, I have to agree with what the others have said. Don't get me wrong, I had a fantastic time as an MA, but whatever your careers office says, please do NOT expect it to give you civilian recognized qualifications, unless it has changed beyond all recognition since I left 9 years ago. I left with a City & Guilds in Emergency & Clinical Care from my MA training, and from my LMA's course, I got City & Guilds Advanced Emergency Care and an RN First Aid Instructor certificate. None of which means jack sh*t outside of the navy.

On the positive side though, the experience may open doors for you to do further training at some point, such as ODP, RGN, EMT, etc... So, I would not say don't do it, but I would say if you want to do it then go into it with your eyes open, and don't see being an MA as anything more than a stepping stone to further training. Oh and yes, most of your time will be spent paper shuffling! Luckily I didn't mind this too much but many of my colleagues were very frustrated by it. When I got my sea draft I had spent 4 years in administration, and had to go and spend a month in A&E first as I hadn't laid eyes on a patient in all that time! 8O
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