Unsure whether to join as a Medical Officer

Discussion in 'Officers' started by peter1122, Jul 5, 2011.

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  1. Hello,

    I've just finished my first year at medical school and I am interested in applying for a medical cadetship, however, I'm not sure army life is for me and if there's anyone here who could answer my very naive questions, I'd be most obliged. I'm aware many of them will sound exceptionally dim and stupid, but they are the things I am curious about.

    My main qualm is that I'm not sure I fit the 'army type personality'. I'm a reasonably introverted person, and you certainly wouldn't describe me as a 'lad', I do not take any interest in getting drunk or laddish behaviour. In saying this I'm not trying to imply for a moment that I am 'above it' in any way, merely that it's something I don't get much enjoyment from and find it well out of my comfort zone. Even at 19, my idea of a good night is staying in and relaxing - not necessarily on my own, but I just wish to illustrate the point I'm not much for clubbing etc. However I wouldn't describe myself as anti-social, at all, and very much enjoy spending time with people. I was head boy at my school and liked to think I got on with nearly everybody and didn't have any 'enemies'.

    I find the idea of killing any other human being abhorrent - is this odd for anyone in the Army? I mean, I'm not trying to imply that troops can't wait to get out and kill someone, far, far from it and I do think that it is meet to do so if there are no other options, but I do think it should be an absolute last resort - as my ultimate profession dictates - I have an intrinsic desire to help fix people, not to kill them.

    A few other questions: Do medical officers have to go on patrol? What exactly would they be doing on tour? Is trauma medicine a must if you join?

    I understand my questions are very stupid and ignorant, but if anyone could be kind enough to put any of them to rest I would be most appreciative.

  2. Ok, so fair enough you're not so keen on killing people, but what are your thoughts on rape?
  3. LancePrivateJones

    LancePrivateJones LE Book Reviewer

    Sounds like a journo out for a bite on the back of the Conscientious Objector Navy Medic story that ended with him being sent down today.

    Or a bizarre coincidence of course.
  4. Or just a shit wind-up.
  5. I am certainly not a journalist and have simply registered here in order to gain some advice as to whether to take the plunge and apply for the cadetship. As I'm sure you'll understand it's a big decision to make and I'd like to have the things I've written about cleared out to help me make the decision.
  6. Traume medicine isn't everything a military doctor deals with - but it can be a big part of it and the main reason for having military doctors - so they can be deployed forward.

    Are you interested in the military cadetship for the money? You haven't come up with a reason as to why you would even be interested in the Army and indeed presented arguements as to why you would be no good. That isn't how people who want to join the Army usually present themselves.
  7. Fang_Farrier

    Fang_Farrier LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    Am not sure if you actually understand the role of a medical officer or even an officer in general which is probably why you've posted, if this isn't a wind up.

    The role of the AMS is to save lives not take them. I joined for that reason (and the opportunity for sports and adventure training and foreign travel. One out of three wasn't too bad). If you don't want to save life then why be a doctor?

    The social side of being an Army Officer is up to you, if you have a look around this site you'de see that there is a mix of folk, not everyone in the army is a clubbing drunk.

    An MO does not generally go out on patrol but stays at a secure location and casulties cometo him.

    On tour, would depend on location, you could spend a fair amount of time dealing with minor injuries, see some major ones, though depending on severity they may be caasevaced straight to a hospital, but you may have to stabilise first. And acting as a GP to those in the surrounding area.

    You don't need to have experience in trauma medicine before you join, the AMS will give you training in that.
  8. Thanks for your response. I do indeed have reasons for joining but, as you correctly identified, this thread has really been me trying to iron out the main things I'm concerned about. I'm definitely not doing it for the money, and have grown up experiencing Army life since my father is in the RADC.

    Just one other point - if anyone could explain what the main differences between being a MO in the RAF and the Army would be, I'd be most appreciative.
  9. Fang_Farrier

    Fang_Farrier LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    Depends on whether green or blue goes better with your eyes
  10. Join the RN - because a) the word "Surgeon" prefixes your rank, it's cool and b) there's quite a bit less "going out on the ground" stuff going on. Don't think that you won't be going to Afg, but unless you volunteer for duties with 3 Commando Brigade, it's quite possible that all you will see is the inside of the hospital at Bastion.

    Plus as it's now the Defence Medical Service, nearly all the options you would get in the RAMC would be open to you, plus a few more.
  11. simplest thing is to contact AMS recruitment and organise a familiarisation visit, that way you can speak to military doctors of various ranks and disciplines and get a balanced view on what are realistic career and professionally expectations as well as what your duties are likely to consist of.
  12. Your Dad was in the RADC?? What on mega-bucks and never in uniform? No offence meant, but the miltary dentists I know wouldn't know service life if it jumped out of their bed one night and stole their fillings...

    All the Regimental Doctors I have served with deployed with us on tour. I think the system has changed slightly recently in as much as you don't necessarily get to go to be a RMO so soon as you used to (completing your hospital attachement and GP type tour first), but I am not the expert on that area.

    Having known one doc really well, he often confided that it was hard to be a doc at RD, as he had to remain aloof from the blokes (a given as an officer) and the officers (as you may be on his bench the next day showing him your rash) and he often felt a bit dislocated. A bit like being the Adjutant, was the best way I described it to him. Having said that, his predecessor was a party animal and he wasn't so much, so didn't mix as much with the mess anyway. I guess it depends on you as a person and how you resolve the professional distance thing - leave your work in the med centre and be Lt A.N.Other in the mess, or try to be "The Doc" at all times.
  13. I'm not sure I can add a great deal, but what I would say is that the Army is a broad church. The stereotype of all Army Officers being hard drinking party animals is far from universally correct. While MOs wear an officers' rank, in the main they do not command soldiers (except in name) and are often not selected on the basis of their potential to motivate men to "jump out of the trenches and charge stark naked at Gerry."

    The reluctance to take another human life is very natural and (I like to think) goes some way to indicate that you are not a dangerous lunatic. As a medical officer you would only ever have to kill in self defence (or in the defence of your patients), but the likelihood of this happening is astranomically low (effectively negligible). However, be under no illusion that many/most of the soldiers you work with will have to be prepared to take life, not because they want to but either because their (or their mates') lives directly depend on it or because it is required to achieve what needs to be done. While they can rest assured that they will never be asked to kill where it is not absolutely necessary, it is still not a natural thing to do and with weigh on each man in a different way. Given that as an army doctor you would be both an officer (despite my previous comment) as well as someone who soldiers may turn to, you need to be able to reconcile your views on taking life with being able to assure a soldier that he is doing the right thing in doing his job, even if this involves killing. If you can't do that, step away now.

    All soldiers are prepared (to some degree) to do dangerous things for a variety of reasons but in amongst those reasons are usually "for their mates" and to "try to make the world a slightly better place." If you think there is even the slightest chance that down the line one day you might decide to refuse to do your job (be it due to your views on the rightousness of the mission at hand, or killing or whatever) and effectively allow your friends to face danger in your absence then, again, walk away now.

    If on the other hand you do want to do your bit to try to make the world a slightly better place, be part of something with a bit of camraderie, have a rewarding and professionally challenging experience and get your university tuition funded, with some spending money to boot, then have a serious think about it, it is a good deal in many ways.
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  14. Many thanks for all your constructive and helpful comments. For those who are interested I'll be off on a familiarisation visit to Camberley in the near future!