Medical Officer

Service:Surface Fleet
Humanitarian aid

The role at a glance

What you’ll do

It goes without saying that your extensive medical knowledge is crucial to this role. But you’ll need so much more than that. Medical Officers in the Royal Navy use their skills in some of the most challenging environments in the world. After your initial training, you might be deployed to a conflict zone or providing medical support during humanitarian aid operations working in a maritime or land environment. You might also find yourself taking on a clinical leadership role at a Joint Hospital Group Unit in Plymouth, Portsmouth and Birmingham, working in specialist areas and caring for both NHS and military patients from all three services. As well as advancing your medical career, you’ll also have the opportunity to gain skills you’d never encounter as a civilian. Diving? Parachuting? They’re yours for the taking.

If you have questions, talk to us

Your role

  • Join at a rank that reflects your experience and be part of a world-class medical service that’s respected far beyond the Armed Forces
  • You will start your career as a General Duties Medical Officer. This means you can be deployed on a ship, submarine or with the Royal Marines anywhere in the world taking charge of all personnel's medical needs, whether that be day to day medical issues or emergency situations.
  • Gain knowledge and experience in tropical and diving medicine as well as chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear medicine to understand the broad skill set you need to do your job in a variety of challenging and unique environments.


What you’ll get

Skills for life

Qualifications you'll gain

  • Funding opportunities to continue personal and professional education
  • After spending time as a General Duties Medical Officer, the Royal Navy will offer to fund selected specialisms and wider qualifications for both personal and professional development
  • Civilian recognised Leadership and management qualifications


Skills you'll develop

  • How to be a leader and apply your medical knowledge in challenging environments
  • Opportunities to specialise in clinical areas such as general practice, surgery, trauma and orthopedics, anesthetics, intensive care or emergency medicine 

Career progression

What you'll need


  • You must be between 18 and 39 years old, and under 39 if you still need professional training
  • 5 grades A*-C (9-4) Including grade 6 (B) or above in English Language and Maths
  • You need a medical degree, full General Medical Council registration, plus four months’ foundation training in Emergency Medical and General Practice
  • You must be a United Kingdom national, or Commonwealth citizen, or Dual National. Dual Nationality restrictions do apply
  • A Body Mass Index (BMI) between 18 and 28 (between 17 and 27 if under 18)
  • Pass the Naval Swimming Test

Skills and interests

  • An ambitious, passionate medical professional
  • A confident leader
  • Always calm under pressure
  • Have a spirit of adventure


Check Eligibility

Starting your career

Joining process

Once you’ve confirmed your eligibility, the joining process is as follows:

  • Submit an application

    Once you’ve registered your interest and have satisfied the basic eligibility criteria, you will be sent an online application form

  • Defence Aptitude Assessment (DAA)

    You’ll be tested on: Verbal Reasoning, Numerical Reasoning, Work Rate, Spatial Reasoning, Electrical Comprehension and Mechanical Comprehension.
    To prepare, you can practise the DAA

  • Interview

    A formal interview to talk through your suitability for the role

  • Medical and eye tests

    These are quite comprehensive and must be completed by one of our Ministry of Defence-approved doctors

  • Pre-Joining Fitness Test (PJFT)

    This involves completing a 2.4km run on a treadmill within a certain time, at a fitness centre near you

  • Interview

    You’ll have a short interview to assess your suitability for a career in the Royal Navy, and to ensure you’re ready for the Admiralty Interview Board (AIB)

  • Admiralty Interview Board

    This stage is unique to officers and takes place in two parts. A Pre Recorded Interview (PRI) is an online assessment which assesses your motivation to join the Royal Navy as an officer and your awareness of the Royal Navy. The Group Planning Exercise (GPE) is the second stage of the AIB and is an online competency based assessment which will take place on a separate day to the PRI. It will be conducted in a virtual group environment and you will be assessed on your contribution to the team based on your individual performance

  • Medical Officer Selection Board 
    We want to select the very best candidates so a selection board allows the Medical Branch Managers to select the highest performing candidates from the AIB to join the Royal Navy as a Medical Officer


Initial training

Following your foundation years you will go to Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) in Dartmouth for 15 weeks, completing the militarisation phase of training and skills including weapon handling, leadership, teamwork, Naval history and physical fitness. You’ll then complete a six-month New Entry Medical Officer course in Portsmouth. On completion of this, you will be ready to work as a General Duties Medical Officer (GDMO) and could find yourself on a ship, submarine or working with the Royal Marines.

Between deployments at sea, you’ll work in shore establishments, providing primary care to all personnel or in secondary care within a Joint Hospital Group Unit in acute and trauma based clinical areas.  

If you join the Submarine Service, you’ll carry out further medical training in radiation medicine and atmosphere control, before spending four months at the Submarine School at HMS Raleigh to learn about all aspects of submarine operation, warfare, weapons, nuclear propulsion and escape training. You’ll then go to sea for the first time in a submarine and win your ‘Dolphins’ – the coveted badge of a fully qualified Submariner.

There's also a swimming test, so if you can't swim, make sure you learn by the time you join us.

Professional training

Following your GDMO time you'll have the opportunity to specialise as you would in civilian medicine.  You will return to mainstream clinical practice, where you can focus on a specialist area, this area will depend on service needs, so your career manager will work with you to make choices that meet your own ambitions and our needs. 

Throughout your career you will undertake various courses including clinical training such as ILS and ALS as well as military training and leadership development courses and gain qualifications to reflect this.