Initial Officer Training
Like all our Specialist Branch officers, you will begin your RAF career on the Specialist Entrant and Re-entrant (SERE) course at the RAF College Cranwell in Lincolnshire. You will undertake an 13-week course specially designed for professionally-qualified entrants to the RAF. The course includes fitness development, military training, weapons handling and academic study as well as practical outdoor leadership challenges.
Specialist RAF Training
After the SERE course, you will complete a Basic Air Warfare Course at RAF College Cranwell and, after a short period of well-earned leave, you will then go to the Defence Medical Services Training Group for a two-week course where you will learn about the delivery of medical care in the RAF. This is followed by a further course at the Centre of Aviation Medicine at RAF Henlow in Bedfordshire. Here you will learn about the effects of illness and medication on the ability of our staff to work onboard aircraft, aircrew life support and human factors in aviation. The course also includes elements of occupational medicine.
General Duties Medical Officer (GDMO) Tour
As with all new officers, you will probably move jobs every 2 or 3 years, and each job is known as a tour. As a trainee or fully qualified GP or consultant, you will begin your RAF career in a Medical Centre at one of our bases as a GDMO to give you first-hand experience of RAF life and time to attend military courses relevant to your future role. You will then be posted to a Ministry of Defence Hospital Unit (MDHU) or to a NHS hospital, either to complete your training or to work as a consultant in your specialty. Qualified GPs will remain working in a Medical Centre.
Your Career Prospects
The RAF offers a structured career path that mirrors the challenges and responsibilities of a civilian medical career. There are opportunities to join as a bursar or cadet rewarded with support through the latter stages of medical school and FY1&2. Once fully registered, you will hold the rank of Flight Lieutenant or Squadron Leader dependent on your experience at time of joining.
Initially, you will be offered an Initial Commission of 6 or 12 years depending on whether you have already completed specialist training, but opportunities may be available later to extend to a pension earning commission of 20 years service or age 40, whichever is the later, during this time. Promotion from Flight Lieutenant to Squadron Leader is after 5 years satisfactory service. Promotion to Wing Commander and above is by competitive selection.
Your commission may be extended until you reach the age of 60, subject to Service requirements and your medical fitness. Pay is aligned with your peers in the NHS and there is a generous Armed Forces Pension Scheme.
As a Medical Officer, you will have extensive opportunities for further professional development throughout your career. In primary care, this may include training to the Diploma in Occupational Medicine and, for some, the opportunity to train up to consultant level. Training also exists for sports and exercise medicine, General Practitioner training, public health or aviation medicine, depending on your career aspirations and the needs of the RAF. As a fully-qualified independent practitioner, either in primary or secondary care, you will undergo various types of further military and adventure training to test your skills in more challenging ways. Some Medical Officers receive extensive Command and Staff Training for senior appointments.
As a Medical Officer in the RAF, you will have similar professional promotion and development opportunities to your civilian counterparts, the chance to work in challenging locations around the world and gain unique medical experiences. The development of your leadership skills and broader military experience has been demonstrated to enhance your prospects if you decide to eventually leave the RAF.