Medical Assistant vs Nurse


I'm about to finish my A levels and apply for the Navy. My career plan is to serve for 10-15 years and then become a civvy Paramedic. I know I want to be in the medical services but am having problems deciding on which role to apply for.

To become a medical officer I would need different A levels to the ones I am about to get, plus I want to enter at rating level, so this idea is scrapped.

To become a nurse I can apply straight away as I have the right qualifications. However, I want to serve at sea and, as far as I can see, nurses are more often than not based in hospitals or clinics etc on shore. While I do not mind being on shore to train etc, I am really wanting to see the world etc which I don't see happening as much if i were a nurse. I could be wrong if anyone could shed some light on this I would be very appreciative.

To be a medical assistant (the original plan), again I can apply straight away. From reading the recruitment bumpf, it is very likely I will be serving at sea once I have finished training. My worry with this role is that I will become a bit bored as I am overqualified (according to careers advisors) for the job. I think overall though that this role may be the most suitable for what I want to achieve whilst in the Navy. But again, I could be way off the mark.

My main priority is to enjoy life. I also want to move up the first couple of ranks fairly quickly, become a PTI, travel as much as possible, play rugby and also be able to teach others things like emergency survival, first aid etc.

Another question....if I enter the navy at rating level as a medical assistant and then get commissioned to become an officer, will I be able to become a medical officer, despite not having the specific qualifications needed (e.g Biology A level)?

So any advice? Pros and cons or nurse and medic roles? Anything really thats not from the recuitment office =)


War Hero
If you serve for fifteen years you might be seeing yourself off. At that point you'd only have another seven years to serve and you'd retire at approx age forty with a pension and a lump sum. So serve for less or do the whole twenty-two years.

If you're interested in becoming a paramedic then you'll need the branch that offers the most opportunities for pre-hospital care. I think (?) that'll be the Combat Medical Technician quals.

However, be aware that Forces medics are not trained in paediatrics so you'll need furthur quals/study to become a civvy paramedic upon leaving the Mob.

I have heard that some Forces medics are receving training whilst still serving from their local NHS trust to bring them up to speed with regard to full paramedic status.

Hope this helps.

That said, I'm soon to be training as a civvy paramedic and I'm not in the medical branch, and the Mob trained me to be a first aid instructor too.


War Hero
Hi Sophie. I'm a civvie nurse-A&E. You like rugby too-good girl!! lol I suppose my point is that training as a nurse actually opens the door to ALOT of opportunities not the other way around. It is important in any job to have the right training-that is paramount. My training was excellent and I have worked in a lot of varied circumstances from local hospice to the national guard hospital in Riyadh. I have travelled purely on the basis that I AM A NURSE. Experience is crucial. Getting a nursing degree under you belt won't be the worst thing that you can do. Paramedic training is excellent here as well, but the training varies hugely between NHS trusts. Saying that there are alot of good medics on this forum who will be able to give you advice regarding this. You have a bright future ahead of you no doubt, just make sure you lay some solid foundations first.


i was in the exact same position i also have my A levels but have chosen to become a medical assistant i am now going in april 15th to raleigh and also i love my rugby an all leicester tigers


Lantern Swinger
Medical assistant

Practical training
High expectation of independent clinical "practice"
Go to sea, with excellent responsibilities
Go commando (yes women at logs)
Go subs (If bloke)
Ability to shine and move up promotion ladder
Open to go for commission later in career
Gain huge amount of independent clinical practice and experience you could never achieve in any other "med" career"
Become a valued and repected member of a big organisation ship/squadron/company
Pursue some sporty down time

Naval Nurse

Learn about the needs of the whole patient and some sociology
Dress like florence nightingale
Have extremely limited clinical scope
Bang on about protocol and clinical governance
Hate the fact that MA's cut the mustard clinically and are allowed to get on with the Job
Work in an MHDU a an NHs skivvy
Have a fat arse and eventually get banged up by some bootneck who was too pissed to realise his mistake


My girlfriend did nearly seven years as an MA and although she enjoyed her time in the mob, she was glad to get out. She said if she had the choice again, MA wouldn't be her chosen path and those reasons are these:

In nearly seven years and despite putting in numerous requests for ships, she only went abroad once and that was to Sweden, the other times were just around the UK on the Argus! For her last two years in the Navy she was based at an NHS hospital were by all she did was take bloods, do ecg's and get treated like crap by the majority of NHS staff. The general concencus seemed to be that if there was a crap job to do then 'get the MA's to do it!' While she gained lots of experience working in the hospital and made some great friends, the hospital never really seemed to realise that Naval staff are there as support only and are not meant to make up missing numbers in staffing rotas. These last two years in the hospital were her main reason for handing in her notice, because she grew so dispondent with it all.

Now I could be completely wrong here and othe MA's in the forum may whole heartedly disagree, but she was not the only MA in the same position.

I just thought you should hear what it could be like and that you are not necessarily guarenteed to go to sea!


after i completed the PJFT it took approx a couple of weeks for my date to come through. The whole process doesn't take that long from applying to your PJFT if you pass them all ok
When my fiance applied he was a student nurse in civvie street and was told that to do nursing in the navy you needed one of the highest scores on the testing so you could have no weak area and then there is more testing and presantations after that.

Now I am NOT saying you wont pass it with flying colours but how about putting student nurse as number one choice and MA as second? you could have your mind made up for you?

He didnt pass even thou he had been a student nurse for 2 years in civvie street had great A Levels and a degree and 6 years experience as a HCA. In the end he was pleased because he was sick to the teeth of studying. (now training as a SA (SM) and loving it!

Ask yourself do you want to study for 3 years? I had an interview at college and the guy was ex RN MA he in the end trained as a ODP and loved his time in the RN. But I can imgine being treated like crap in a NHS hospital by NHS nurses would be nasty - I was for 1 year as a student nurse - bed pan anyone?