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 on the planet. After your Basic Training, you might be deployed to a conflict zone where your patients are also your friends, or taking on a leadership role at a hospital serving all three armed forces. 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.

Your role

  • Join at a rank that reflects your experience. Start in primary care as a fully qualified medical professional, or finish your studies in the Royal Navy, earning a wage and having your fees paid for by us
  • 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
  • Be part of a world-class medical service that’s respected far beyond the Armed Forces


What you’ll get

Skills for life

Qualifications you'll gain

  • Study for GCSEs, A-Levels, NVQs or even a degree, paid for by us
  • After spending time as a General Duties Medical Officer, the Royal Navy will offer to fund selected specialisms

Skills you'll develop

  • How to be a leader and apply your medical knowledge in challenging conditions
  • Opportunities to specialise in major disciplines

Career progression

What you'll need


  • Cadetships are available for your final three years at a UK medical school (not including your intercalation year). To join directly you’ll need a medical degree, full General Medical Council registration, plus four months’ foundation training in Emergency Medical and General Practice
  • You must be between 18 and 39 years old, and under 39 if you still need professional training
  • You need to be a minimum height of 151.5cm and within the healthy range for Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • A National of the United Kingdom, a Commonwealth citizen or Dual National

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

  • 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

  • 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 (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

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.

Aim to get yourself as fit as possible before you arrive. You’ll be doing a lot of physical exercise, and you’ll find it much easier if you’re already in shape. There’s also a swimming test, so if you can’t swim, make sure you learn by the time you join us.

Professional training

With your initial training under your belt, you will then go to Portsmouth to complete your Naval Doctor Training, here you will learn battlefield first aid and medical evacuation. You’ll then deploy either on a surface ship or you could earn a Green Beret by completing the All Arms Commando Course (AACC) and serve alongside Royal Marines, or you could join the Submarine Service and learn about radiation medicine. This is classed as your General Duties Medical Officer (GDMO) time.
Following your GDMO time you'll have the opportunity to specialise as you would in civilian medicine. You will return to 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.