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Naval nurse or medical assistant?


Ive just qualified as a nurse in civilian street and am thinking of joining the Navy. The thing is I really want to go to sea and see something of the world. If I went in as a nurse would I be stuck in Pompey or Peterborough all my life? I've considered going in as a medical assistant as I think I might have more chance of going to sea but was told at the AFCO that it would be a waste of my skills. I'm still quite young with no attachments (lucky me) and just want to see a bit of life and the world. Any real world advice from anyone would be really helpful.



Lantern Swinger
To be honest, if you go in as a medic you will be repeating a lot of your training, and learn a little more of immediate emergency care.
As a nurse, you are screwed - you get to go to QAH portsmouth (MDHU(Pm)), Derriford (yuk), or happy ol Birmingham! There are other bases around the place but all are affiliated with the NHS (shit organisation who know how to create cock-ups and more managers than you can throw a stick at!
Dont let me put you off though.

Nursing pays far better than a MA does and gets more 'credit' for a career - MA life includes a lot of record keeping and seeing folk with coughs, colds and emergency treatment on those floaty things. :toilet:
Some of the carriers include nurses on the staff list but you gotta be sleeping with the drafter to get on here.
You can always work in a med centre as a nurse - again call th drafter round for .... well you get the idea!

Personally my friend i'd be off as nurse. A lot of MA's want to transfer to nursing (NOT ALL DO) as they look at a career for when they come out and are pissed off being treated like crap a lot of the time! :threaten:

I respect both Nurses and MA's - they do a really rewarding job, under crappy circumstances, make a lot of friends and cant sing very well when drunk! :rendeer:


On boats the MA keeps the air quality tests and the oxygen content and the reactor secondary cooling testing as well.
As well as wot? as well as dishing out the brufin the morning after a run ashore.

Old. bold and retired of Corsham here. Its a hard call to make. You've just spent 3 years qualifying and will now have a lot of responsibility. You WILL go to an MDHU but depending on your specialty (and luck of the draw) you may well toddle off to hotter sandier climates for a few months. There may also be deployments on Argus. All of which means you will do the nursey type things for which you trained.

As an MA you will do the best part of a year's training including all your OJT so you will cover a lot of what you have already done. I suspect you may not write QUITE as many reflective essays or discursive pieces on sexual health... You will work in shore based sickbays but you also stand a good chance of getting to sea. If you're male you also have the opportunity of boats and booties. In any of these last 3 roles you will have many of the responsibilities of a doctor or nurse (which disappear as soon as you set foot in a shore sickbay). You will do coughs and colds but you are there for that 'just in case' moment of which there are many. Don't forget also, the work done as Aid to Civil Powers after natural disasters.

Fewer nurses are required but as you're now qual'ed you won't have to go through training, this may be less of a problem. I suppose one path would be to enter as an MA give that a fair crack (a couple of years) then if you don't like it ask to recat to Nurse (may not make you popular with Drafty though!)

There will be others like Ninja_Stoker who are better placed to advise you.

There's nothing like properly chatting to serving MAs and Nurses though to get their feel.


War Hero
Book Reviewer
A friend of mine (ex-Wren AB, left in mid-90s) subsequently qualified as an A&E Senior Staff Nurse. Currently works in Brighton but is also a Territorial Army Nursing Officer in Portsmouth, and is considering joining as a Regular Army as a commissioned Nursing Officer.

If you have similar qualifications (Nursing degree, etc.) perhaps this could be an option; have the variety of doing your primary job as a nurse, but with the added excitement of a Reservist, without commiting to one job whilst losing the benefits of the other?


War Hero
Hi Bezza, welcome to Rum Ration.

The very best thing you can do is speak with the Naval Nurse recruiting officer, (based in Portsmouth) via your AFCO- they will be happy to put you in touch.

Despite the advice above I've come across several civilian qualified nurses who have elected to join as a Medical Assistant (MA) for a variety of reasons, not least because we are not currently recruiting direct entry qualified nurses or because they expect more sea-time as an MA. The thing you need to absolutely clear about, whatever you choose is that there's currently absolutely no chance of transferring to Naval Nurse if you join as an MA & you must not join up in that expectation.

At risk of sounding cynical, despite all the advice given by AFCO's, people still insist they were unaware of this, despite being absolutely certain they wanted to join as an MA.

In short, whatever you decide to join as, expect to stay as- hope that helps clarify.

Good luck :thumright:


Lantern Swinger
Here is something that is worth considering. A high number of MA entrants are female, female MAs can’t be attached to the RMs (unless this has changed) and can’t be submariners. If they need MA(SM)s or MAs to be attached to the RMs, then as a male you’ve got a far higher chance of being drafted to one of these.

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