RFA Medical Technician

Discussion in 'RFA' started by Y_A_S, Jan 22, 2012.

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  1. Ladies and Gents

    I have been looking for a job I would love to do for a very long time and thanks to the now updated RN and RFA website there is more information available than there was before. I have now seen the Medical Technician role and this is something that I would love to do. Everything about the RFA and that particular role appear to be everything i'm looking for.

    However, I am not naive enough to think that glossy brochures and internet adverts always accurately reflect what the job is really like (a bit like my current job which only promotes the good bits!)

    So I was wondering if there is anyone who can tell me what life is really like in the RFA and also if anyone could tell me more about the role itself. I understand there is no current recruiting for this role but if anyone could advise what I could do to improve my chances of getting the post in the meantime I would be most grateful.

    I have tried the TOOTP forum, but its offline (I was hoping to speak to the RFA recruiter who I believe frequents the forum). I called the local AFCO and they said they can give me brochure and DVD but their knowledge of the RFA is somewhat limited.

  2. Do you have a medical background of any sort? The RFA do not recruit raw, untrained people off the street to become Med-Techs. You must have similar experience either as a naval MA or military medic or whatever the appropriate civilian equivalent might be.
  3. Thanks for your reply.

    I work in the emergency services but not in a medical role. The advert made it sound like no previous experience was needed...gutted!! :-(
  4. Having now read the glossy brochure, it does indeed sound like they are prepared to employ and train applicants with no previous experience, though I have never heard of this actually being done. Ex-MAs and similar will still have something of an edge in the recruitment process.

    I'd take anything in those brochures with a pinch of salt as I spotted several amusing inaccuracies in the other RFA examples, often where they have simply cut and pasted from the nearest RN equivalent.
  5. Last time I was on an RFA (OK it was 1973) ... as a Doc life was

    Saturday night in the crews mess watching the cross dressers!
    Plymouth Gin (still can't stand the smell)

    Things may have changed now!
  6. Cheers for the replies. Looks like i'll have to give up on the idea or turn up at an AFCO and see if begging will work! Lol!

    Are you able to tell me what the inaccuracies are? Just in case it is one of these inaccuracies that led me to think this was my ideal job.
  7. The Med Tech brochure doesn't look too bad to me, but I'm not an MT so I might have missed something. The one item that did stand out was:

    Some years back there were a few CPO(MT) kicking about the fleet, but I haven't seen one other than in a shoreside staff post for many years. Despite what it says in the brochure, do not expect promotion beyond [PO]MT.

    All the new style RFA brochures I've looked at rather overrate promotion prospects. In most branches it is currently very slow and very, very far from automatic regardless of what qualifications you gain.
  8. Nope- I was on Argus in 2010 and Fort George in 2011- it's still pretty much the same!

    I am here: http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=53.552913,-2.120247
  9. To be accepted as a RFA Medical Technician, a Military Medical background is prefered - RN Medical Branch, though we have an ex-RAMC and 1 or 2 ex-RAF medics. We do have a Med Tech with no miltary background (Nurse), but has a lot of offshore experience.
    RFA Medics are accepted in the grade of Med Tech (PO pay scale) and after a minium of 2 years and if holding all the required medical/clinical qualifications (FAI, Offshore & Remote Medic Cert, AED Inst, Noise Assessor,etc etc etc), then the Med Tech is advanced to the pay grade of Med Tech (Q) - (CPO pay grade). The Med Tech for the past 5-6 years does not have the rank prefix of PO/CPO, as that would imply Billet Grading for each class of ship, which would not work as there are not enough Med Tech's (27) to allow that to work. Though if a Med Tech (Q) had a requirement to wear No.1 uniform, then CPO buttons would be worn!
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2012
  10. Epaulettes for MT and MT(Q)s are all the same though? I can't remember now whether they have PO's bars below the red cross or not. What's the score with the shore post (i.e. Bob) where he wears CPO's laurels around the red cross (looks like the old CPO(MT)'s badge)? Is that the only instance where that badge is worn? Is he on the same pay/conditions as seagoing MT(Q)?
  11. All Med Tech's should be wearing the same "Branch Slides"/ epaulettes, (Red & White Cross of Life with the title "RFA Medical Technician" below) - The Geneva Red Cross is no longer used except when a Med Tech (Q) wears No.1 uniform, then the badge of a miniture RC with gold laural leaves is worn above the three "Chief's" buttons) Bob has been wearing the RFA Med Tech epaulettes the last couple of occasions he came on board various ships I have been on during FOST work-ups. Though his name-badge does show "CPO Med Tech" - for the benefit of the RN FOSTies and the RN in general who can't understand the difference between a MT & MT(Q)! - He also does work-ups on RN ships;being fully qualified in all things RN medical - as all ex-RN Med Tech's are.

    Bob is still on the same Pay & Conditions, as he still holds a ENG1 and will return back to sea after his time with FOST is up.
  12. All the RFA Med Techs I know have been ex forces Army, RAF, or Navy. They wear the new paramedic symbol a red six-sided star with the snake thereon. (someone will tell me what that's about). The RFA do draw heavily on ex combat Med Techs but they do take on NHS Paramedics - that's the standard you need to be at.

    The RFA only operate 16 ships with one Med Tech onboard. There will be Med Techs ashore or on leave which makes for a very very small branch. The RFA is less than 2000 in strength at the mo.

    As a PO/CPO equivalent rank you would eat the POs mess and drink in the POs bar. Everyone in the RFA gets their own cabin with satellite TV, desk etc. You share your 'heads' with your next door neighbour. As a Senior Rate (PO /CPO) you get a double bed and own en-siute shower, sink and heads etc.
  13. Different Bob! I was thinking of Bob at Whale Island rather than Bob at FOST.

    13. Thank you SDSR. On average one ship per year has been cut from the RFA for at least the last decade.
  14. The other Bob is now back at sea after his job ashore Endex. Yes the last time I saw him (18 months ago), he was wearing the old "CPO" Red Cross medic's epaulettes and I gave him rib for doing so!
  15. medtech

    If you want to be a 'hands on medic' you will be disappointed. Medtechs are now not allowed to even give the minor injections I get from the part-time nurse at the GP. They give out plasters, sun cream, bug cream and see to minor ailments. They also tend to restock the library's books (often little more than a broom cupboard) Anything slightly serious medically you get sent home for your own Dr to sort it out. There's a big drive and new role now in that they are forced to lecture new joiners about their BMI. Its upsetting many people (even slim ones), and causing animosity towards them which is such a shame, and it’s hardly the role of a highly trained medic? The controversial BMI incidentally, was invented 170 yrs ago by a European astronomer! I was talking to a Medtech recently, who was so frustrated at being a highly qualified medic who spent most of his time doing paperwork and mustering medicines. There unsurprisingly seems to be a high turnover, and yes background tends to be mainly ex RN, Army, RAF and paramedics. Accommodation :I’ve been on every ship (there are 13 now). Cabins definitely en suite on two ships but others range from communal shower/toilets to one shower-room & toilet between two and it isn’t double beds all round but yes to sat tv although the channel content is awful. PO Bars tend to be empty or virtually empty. Each ship has one. Many people now are too scared to lose their job by drinking alcohol (as low as half drink drive limit and not much higher even when off duty at sea). PO’s don’t have their own eats area on one ship as there is no PO mess, and often eat with crew on other ships too at weekend alongside. Just saw the pdf advert! Training you give the crew amounts to little more than doing the same old talk about CPR after electric shock whilst everyone cringes to not volunteer to put their lips around those creepy rubber dolls after the chap next to you has just been there. Aero med evac? Never known it happen. How is breaking your back stretchering a heavy man up awkward staircases to the flight deck exciting? Computer skills = playing solitaire and writing signals to replace out of date medicines. UK port facilities? They won’t let RFA use them, been an ongoing issue for years. There are only 3 bases in the world anyway. Infection control? True, Seen that the once, augmentees with genital lice that rapidly spread over several cabins. The issue over rank and shoulder slides is irrelevant. They have charge of no staff and are a 1 person department. They are known by first name or sometimes ‘doc’ if you don’t know their name. Finally don’t think I’m being negative, just telling a bit of how it is. The Medtechs tend to be very welcoming if you decide to go and see them. I’d say it’s a decent job with good money. My point is- many don’t last long as their expectations and the real world where their hands are tied can widely differ. Sorry for long post. Good luck to you anyway.
  16. Thanks everyone for your replies so far. In particular, thanks to Striven for giving me a 'real world' view. To answer some of your points:

    By the sound of it I could be disappointed. But then, I wasn't expecting to be performing as a Doctor. I was thinking it was more of an amalgamation of Paramedic and Practice Nurse/OHU Nurse roles. However, I also expected that unless I spent 2/3 years training (plus a number of years post registration experience) in these roles then it would be a lower level hybrid role. Out of interest, is it not more akin to the RN MA role or is it a lesser version?

    Whilst controversial, it is probably correct to discuss BMI. Although BMI is universally hated by healthcare professionals it is meant to assist in deciding an appropriate weight for your height. One of it's problems, however, is that most rugby players would 'fail' their BMI due to their larger frames, despite being extremely fit. I am aware that Doctors often allow leeway when interpreting BMI. From what you have said, it seems that the manner in which the BMI 'lecture' is being presented could do with some improvement in order to get the message across but not in such a rigid and dictatorial manner.

    Whilst it would be nice to have all en-suite cabins, I don't have too much of a problem sharing (as long as the people i'm sharing with aren't animals). As long as I have my own space, that's fine with me! From what I have read I could take a laptop with me so could access TV via the internet (assuming you get internet access, or else why state we can take laptops), play games etc. I also enjoy reading and understand I could fill my time with studying additional qualifications.

    I know i'm going to sound strange, but I don't drink so the lack of alcohol or PO's mess doesn't bother me. I'm not really that bothered about eating with the rest of the crew. As long as the food is ok, i'm fairly easy.

    Sounds like when I used to teach in St John Ambulance. Alcohol/Medi-wipes usually provides a level of reassurance.

    I've seen a presentation where it gave figures saying that in 2009 there were 32 Aero Med Evac - not a lot and not even sure what my role would be in respect of it.

    Fair point.

    I like solitaire! ;-)

    Who won't let RFA use them? The Royal Navy? Where are the 3 bases? Is it a big problem not being able to use the port facilities?

    Nice! Out of interest, what was the Med Techs role in dealing with the outbreak?

    Do the rest of the RFA get addressed by their rank or appointment? Does it really matter if i'm not addressed by name? I assume, it is a hybrid RN/Civil Service situation and if someone of a higher grade asks you to do something, you do it??

    I'm really grateful for an honest view, which is exactly what i'm after. If you can tell me anymore about the RFA i'd be grateful e.g. Life at Sea etc etc. Although this is all academic as they're only recruiting officer cadets at the moment! But it will at least let me walk away relatively better informed.

  17. It is a good thing when a Med-Tech isn't doing his job. It means colleagues aren't dying, losing appendages or suffering other injuries. The less such hands-on work they have the better IMO.

    However, the busy-ness of the role depends on where your ship is and what it's doing. On a ship around the UK it's easy to bundle someone off up the road to an NHS GP. Not so easy when you're sitting off Somalia. I suspect striven (i.e. Loch Striven, widely regarded as a particularly godforsaken part of Scotland) has spent too much time around the UK of late, perhaps on the Glenmallan Guardship? Too many JMCs on the trot?

    Ship's libraries are generally larger, at least in physical size, than striven indicates. Most are large enough for several bookshelves and 2-4 desktop computers. The only "broom cupboard" I can think of is on Diligence. Diligence is exceptional in many ways.

    Don't forget that as well as BMI they now have to measure your waist and if it's over 40" give you another stern lecture about how you are going to die of heart disease. ;-)

    I can think of six RFAs where I know for a fact that the Med-Tech's cabin is en-suite. The others I simply don't remember either way.

    Satellite TV is usually about ten channels of BFBS based off UK terrestrial TV content - BBC1, ITV, movies, Sky News, Sky Sports, etc.

    You can take a laptop to entertain yourself in whatever manner you see fit, but the RFA will not provide you with Internet access for it. Deployed ships now have a couple of shared laptops to which extremely slow (slower than 56kbps dial-up) Internet access is provided. If spending significant time in port I recommend obtaining a 3G modem and a local SIM card and providing your own Internet access. On at least one occasion amenities funding has procured a shared 3G solution.

    Whilst some may be scared of the alcohol restrictions many others, at all levels, give them a damn good ignoring. YMMV.

    Diligence is the only ship where POs have to slum it in a dining area shared with the crew. Weekends alongside you might as well go ashore to eat as the galley invariably serves the nastiest slop of the week since most of the cooks are up the road on the lash.

    I've seen casualties flown off on more than one occasion, around the UK and overseas, so aero medevacs do happen.

    I always thought solitaire was the province of the Radio Room watchkeeper and Med-Techs just went up the road when they'd finished stockchecking morphine for the day?

    I suspect the three bases referred to are Portsmouth, Plymouth and Faslane, each one of which I have spent extended periods at on an RFA, though Portsmouth and Faslane tend not to be regular ports of call. RFAs can also frequently be found at Marchwood, Portland, Falmouth, Birkenhead, Glenmallan, Rosyth and Hebburn(?) in the UK. Common ports of call overseas include Dubai, Bahrain, Fujairah (dump), Salalah (dump), various Caribbean islands and US east coast ports, and anywhere in the South Atlantic that will let us in.

    I've not noticed the high turnover of Med-Techs that striven has, most of the miserable buggers I've sailed with have been in a good bit longer than me.
  18. BMI hated by health professionals? News to me.

    Yes, rugby players score high but then their knees are buggered by their early to mid 30s so maybe it isn't all that bad. If you're carrying weight your knees and hips don't really care whether it's fat or muscle.
  19. Angrydoc

    Maybe saying universally hated was overstating it, but i've not yet met a HCP who has said anything good about it including the 6 different OHU nurses i've seen over the last 6 years (have to have yearly medicals in work), 2 OHU doctors, and 2 Medical Officers in the TA. My own GP doesn't agree that it is the best either. They have all said that it gives an indication but that they build their own flexibility into the system (having said that i've never been under/over with my BMI). Just going with what they've said.


    Thanks for your views. Much appreciated. It's always good to hear different experiences.

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