Nursing Officer

Service:Surface Fleet
Humanitarian aid

The role at a glance

What you’ll do

Life as a Nursing Officer offers extraordinary challenges and responsibilities, but comes with opportunities and rewards to match. Wherever you go in the world and whatever you’re doing, you’ll play a key part in safeguarding our personnel and civilians alike.

You could be in a NHS hospital caring for returning military personnel or out in the field working in a conflict zone. Whatever you do, you’ll encounter some of the most challenging environments imaginable, developing both personally and clinically as you experience a life few medical professionals can imagine.

Your role

  • Lead a team providing medical support to Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel on shore and at sea, in the UK and around the world
  • Train as part of a surgical team on shore, developing the skills you’ll need to work in hostile environments. In peacetime, you’ll work for Defence Medical Groups based in NHS hospitals in Plymouth, Portsmouth or Birmingham, and in medical centres around the UK and overseas
  • Gain clinical and management experience and take responsibility for mentoring junior nurses and medical assistants
  • Be part of a world-class medical service that’s recognised far beyond the Armed Forces. You’ll represent our nation whatever you’re doing and wherever you are

What you’ll get

Skills for life

Qualifications you'll gain

  • An opportunity to study further at degree or masters level, to top up your professional portfolio
  • You’ll have the opportunity to carry out specialist courses funded by the Royal Navy, in areas such as intensive care, operating theatres, emergency medicine, orthopaedics, primary care and mental health

Skills you'll develop

  • Unique nursing care, including assessment, treatment and management that can be utilised in all environments
  • How to use your expertise and develop your leadership and management skills in a maritme environment

Career progression

What you'll need


  • If you take your GCSEs after the start of 2017, you need 5 at grades 9 – 4, including English Language and Maths; before 2017, you need 5 at grades A*– C
  • A degree in Adult Nursing is required. You can apply in the final year of completing your degree to be selected
  • You need to be registered with the Nursing Midwifery Council (NMC)
  • You must be aged 20 to 39
  • You need to be within the healthy range for Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • A National of the United Kingdom, a Commonwealth citizen or Dual National. 
  • Commonwealth applicants applying from inside their country of origin must be aged minimum 18.  If a resident in the UK Commonwealth applicants are eligible to apply at 16.  Current valid passports and visas (where applicable) are a mandatory requirement to be eligible to apply, it is the responsibility of individual applicants to ensure that they have permission to be in the UK and this permission is valid for the entirety of the recruitment process up to the point entry.  

Skills and interests

  • A caring and compassionate nature

  • Decisive with strong independent thinking
  • Highly organised and able to remain cool under pressure
  • Approachable as a strong team leader
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

  • Naval Service Recruitment Test (NRST)

    You’ll be tested on general reasoning, verbal ability, numeracy and mechanical comprehension

  • 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

  • Admiralty Interview Board (AIB)

    This stage is unique to officers and takes place over a day and a half. It’s a competency-based assessment that confirms that you’re physically and mentally ready to become a Royal Navy Officer

  • Nurses Selection Board

    Upon passing you AIB, your application will be reviewed by the Nurses Selection Board for final selection

  • Start training

    Once you’ve passed a Security Check, you’ll be offered a place at Britannia Royal Naval College

Initial training

You’ll spend 30 weeks training at Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) in Dartmouth, focusing on: Military Skills, Maritime Skills and Initial Fleet Time. The military skills phase includes learning leadership and teamwork skills, and the principles of command and management. You will put this into practice during several exercises on Dartmoor.

You’ll then join a Defence Medical Group and be introduced to you clinical area and start rotation.

You may have the opportunity to be involved in medical exercises. This could be on RFA Argus and working in the casualty receiving facility on board or it could be with the Combat Forward Surgical Group, that follow the Royal Marines.

Professional training

Join a Defence Medical Group (DMG), start preceptorship programme including clinical rotation.  You will also do mentor training within this time. Once rotation is finished there is the opportunity to specialise in ITU, truma and orthopaedics, emergency care, primary health care, burns and plastics, mental health, surgical and medical.  Speciality training means going back to university and study at degree or masters level.

Specialist training is carried out within the NHS, most frequently at one of the Ministry of Defence Hospital Units (MDHU), following the same routes for both primary and secondary care as your civilian counterparts. The specialist areas that you could work in are ITU, trauma and orthopedics, emergency care, primary health care, mental health, surgical and medical.