1.0     Biomedical Scientist

  • Specialist Training: Phase 2a Specialist training starts with a first aid course of about two weeks, where trainees will not only learn Basic First Aid, but also about the Medical Services and specialised units within them. For the next three years trainees will study for a BSc (Hons) in Biomedical Science at a nearby university dependant on the training location. This will be a day-release course and, in the meantime, trainees will work in a laboratory that has been approved for training. During this time trainees will produce a portfolio reflecting their experience. This is used, in conjunction with the degree, to enable state registration with the Health Professions Council.
  • This is followed by a 16-week Phase 2b Specialist ‘trade’ training course, (Transition to Military Practice course) at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine in Birmingham. This course is designed to give trainees an introduction to the theory and applications of military biomedical science and the various analysers they will be expected to use on deployments. When trainees have completed their specialist training, they will get their first assignment.
  • First Tour: For a first tour, individuals will probably be posted to a Ministry of Defence hospital unit within an NHS hospital. Individuals will work in a small team of military laboratory technicians so that they gain confidence and experience. It could be the individual’s role, for example, to test blood to make sure it is matched correctly for operations and transfusions. Patients will include both Service personnel and civilians.
  • Ongoing Development: As a Biomedical Scientist, individuals will have extensive opportunities for further professional development throughout their career, including postgraduate qualifications. Currently, RAF Biomedical Scientists are studying for MSc degrees in Haematology, Microbiology and Clinical Chemistry. Individuals will need to maintain their registration with the Health Professions Council by participating in Continual Professional Development and completing several Specialist Portfolios.
  • As a Biomedical Scientist, individuals will carry out tests and investigations to help clinicians make diagnoses. Just like a civilian Biomedical Scientist, individuals could analyse blood, examine body fluids under a microscope or study the behaviour and biology of micro-organisms. Biomedical Scientists work in well-equipped pathology labs in a number of tri-Service Ministry of Defence Hospital Units in the UK and overseas in their operational role. As a Biomedical Scientist individuals are trained in all aspects of pathology before specialising in one of four disciplines: Clinical Chemistry, Haematology, Blood Transfusion or Medical Microbiology.
  • Note: individuals will need to perform well at a specialist interview, as well as delivering a presentation on a biomedical science related subject and writing a short essay.

2.0     Dental Nurse

  • Specialist Training: lasts for 15-weeks and is delivered at the Defence Medical Services Training Group Dental Training School (DMSTG DTS), located in Aldershot, Hampshire (The training school is due to move to Lichfield in 2014). Trainees will learn the tasks of a Dental Nurse and gain an understanding of dental equipment and materials; in addition, trainees will learn basic first aid skills. Included in the 15-weeks is a 4 week clinical placement at an RAF Unit where trainees will put the theory and practical skills learned into practice. On completion of this formal course, trainees will be posted to their first dental centre where they will continue on their training pathway under the guidance of a nominated mentor. In order to become a qualified Dental Nurse, trainees must achieve the National Diploma in Dental Nursing and be professionally registered with the General Dental Council. Unless trainees meet these criteria they will not be allowed to practice as a Dental Nurse and retention in the RAF will be reviewed. The RAF aims to produce a caring, knowledgeable, competent and skilful Dental Nurse who accepts professional responsibility and appreciates the need for Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Training for dental nurses joining the RAF who already hold a professional qualification and are registered with the General Dental Council will comprise of a 1-week Transition to Military Practice course before being posted to a permanent Station.
  • First Tour: For a first tour, individuals will be posted to work within an experienced dental team. Individuals will have a lot of contact with patients and develop a close working relationship with the other dental nurses, dentists, hygienists and other members of the dental team.
  • Overview: Dental Nurses are an integral member of the dental team. Dental Nurse training follows the National Diploma for Dental Nurses syllabus. With training, individuals will take the national examination and become registered with the General Dental Council (GDC). This is essential to remain a member of the RAF. As a Dental Nurse working with modern equipment and materials they have an essential role in the RAF team providing key support to the dental practice in a number of areas. Even before the patient reaches the surgery Dental Nurses will already have been responsible for the selection, preparation and maintenance of all the instruments and equipment which will be used. During the treatment process Dental Nurses will select and prepare fillings and impression materials, develop and process X-rays and cast the models on which dentures or appliances are constructed. As well as preparing the surgery for the delivery of dental treatment Dental Nurses are responsible for the management of the patient throughout the treatment process from arranging their appointments, receiving them at reception and caring for them during and after their treatment. Dental Nurses manage both paper and computerised dental records, order and maintain stocks of materials. Dental Nurses may also be called upon to assist the Practice Manager in a range of non-clinical duties. Once qualified and experienced, Dental Nurses often work unsupervised, more experienced Dental Nurses mentor their less experienced colleagues, passing on the skills and knowledge they have gained, teamwork is fundamental in a dental practice. Many Dental Nurses progress to becoming Practice or Regional Managers responsible for coordinating the team within a dental practice or a group of dental practices. Like most in the RAF, Dental Nurses will move jobs every few years, and each job is known as a tour. For most tours, Dental Nurses will be based in a dental practice on an RAF base in the UK, working primarily with RAF dentists; but could also work with RN, British Army or civilian dentists. Some Dental Nurses support military oral surgeons and orthodontists with an opportunity to gather additional clinical skills and qualifications which are all transferable once they return to civilian life. There are a small number of opportunities to work on RAF bases overseas or to go on operations or exercises to provide care and treatment for troops in the field. This could mean working in tented accommodation for anything from a few days to a few months.

3.0     Dental Officer

  • Specialist Training: Experienced dentists go straight to their first posting after SERE.  However, for those joining the RAF as a newly qualified dentist, they will follow a 12-month, nationally-recognised Dental Foundation Training Programme, working with a highly-experienced, fully-accredited trainer. Within this Tri-Service programme there are regular block-release modules which are normally held in the Aldershot area – either at the Defence Medical Services Training Centre, Keogh Barracks or Dental Centre, Aldershot. There is also a 4-week phase at one of the RAFs overseas bases where trainees will treat Service families.
  • First Tour: For a first tour, individuals will be posted to a multi-chair practice to work with an experienced dentist. Individuals will be fully trained and supported to practise dentistry to the highest standards. Comprehensive clinical governance, including quality assurance and practice audit, are built into RAF working practices – and once experienced individuals will have clinical freedom to give their patients the best possible care, while maximising RAF resources.
  • Ongoing Development: All Dental Officers undertake at least 10 sessions of postgraduate education each year, and are encouraged to study for the MJDF qualification. As a career develops, individuals will also be able to work towards further postgraduate qualifications, e.g.  Masters Degrees, and qualify as enhanced general practitioners in disciplines such as periodontology and advanced conservation. Professional training pathways leading to consultant status are also funded by the Ministry of Defence to meet clinical requirements.
  • Dental Officers will spend most of their career at dental practices on RAF bases in the UK, but they may also have the opportunity to work abroad for short periods. After vocational training Dental Officers will have the opportunity to study for the MJDF, and later they may be selected to study for an MSc in a dental discipline or use their postgraduate qualifications as a vocational trainer.

4.0     Environmental Health Technician

  • Specialist Training: after Phase 1 initial training, the next step is two years of specialist training courses leading to a Foundation Degree in Military Environmental and Occupational Health awarded by Middlesex University. Trainees will then get their first assignment. The specialist training commences with a ten-month classroom-based foundation course at the Defence Medical Services Training Group at Aldershot in Hampshire, the training school for military medicine.  Trainees will then go to RAF Henlow for nine months of practical training. The course ends with a further six months of classroom-based learning and confirmatory exercises at the Defence Medical Services Training Group at Aldershot. The Foundation Degree is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.
  • First Tour: For a first tour, individuals will probably be assigned to work within a team of Environmental Health Technicians at RAF Henlow. Individuals could carry out food hygiene assessments or occupational health surveys on bases throughout the RAF and they could be required to respond to aircraft incidents and outbreaks of communicable disease.
  • Ongoing Development: Once trainees have successfully completed their training, they will be awarded an HND in Environmental and Occupational Health. There are opportunities for further training throughout a career, and individuals could be selected to study for a degree in Environmental Health.
  • Environmental Health Technicians provide professional advice to ensure that RAF personnel always have safe and healthy working and living conditions. Environmental Health Technicians identify, evaluate and control chemical, biological and physical hazards that may affect the well-being of the community. They visit RAF bases to inspect and advise on all aspects of occupational and environmental health, such as disposing of toxic waste or how to maintain hygiene when people are working in the field.

5.0     Medical Officer

  • Specialist Training: After SERE, trainees will complete a 2-week Basic Air Warfare Course at RAF Cranwell. After a short period of leave, trainees will then go to the Defence Medical Services Training Centre at Keogh Barracks in Hampshire, for a 3-week course where they will learn about the delivery of medical care in the RAF. This is followed by a further 2-week course at the Centre for Aviation Medicine at RAF Henlow in Bedfordshire. Here trainees will learn about the effects of illness and medication on the ability of RAF staff to work onboard aircraft. The course also includes elements of occupational medicine.
  • First Tour: For a first tour, Medical Officers will be posted to a Ministry of Defence Hospital Unit within an NHS hospital. They could be working within a team of military ODPs, preparing and maintaining the operating theatre and providing support in the recovery room.
  • Ongoing Development: individuals can join as a General Duties Medical Officer (GDMO) or as a specialist. Medical Officers will receive postgraduate training in their specialism, as well as training in aviation medicine.

6.0     Medical Support Officer

  • Specialist Training: Phase 2 specialist training for RAF Medical Support Officers (Mainstream) 1 starts with an ‘E’ learning package, issued by the Branch Sponsor, on completion of Initial Officer Training. This is completed during the first six months of the first tour as a junior officer. In addition, during the first 10 months, individuals will attend the Initial Medical Support Officers (MSO) course, which lasts for 10-weeks and is held at the Defence Medical Services Training Centre at Aldershot in Hampshire with detachments to various units. The course is based on the five pillars of the branch’s output (Operations, Logistics, Training, Primary and Secondary Healthcare Management and Medical Administration) and will provide trainees with a clear understanding of health in its widest sense and how health services are provided in a military context. Over the period of the 10-weeks trainees will be detached to HQ Tactical Medical Wing, Surgeon General/Joint Medical Commands HQ and Air Command. On completion of this course, the content of Phase 3 training will depend on the trainees current posting. However, most personnel would be expected to complete the Medical Operational Training course held again at HQ Tactical Medical Wing at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire. Phases 2 and 3 will be completed over an 18-month period. All early training will, collectively, give individuals a sound introduction to RAF Medical Services and Defence Medical Services as well as the type of knowledge they will need to enjoy a successful career as a MSO.
  • MSOs support the RAF’s medical services in a whole range of management and administrative roles. MSOs could be a desk officer assessing the provision of primary care for RAF personnel, or checking how the RAF deals with medical supplies. MSOs could be managing projects or planning budgets, or they could be out and about, leading a team visiting RAF medical centres around the world to find out how well they are working and advising on RAF policy. MSOs can be based at important locations with an aeromedical evacuation team or managing military medical resources from a command or field headquarters. Wherever and whenever the RAF provides medical services, MSOs support will be needed. In addition to academic qualifications, MSos will also be expected to have had some experience of the medical world.

7.0     Medical Support Officer (Physio)

  • Specialist Training: begins with 11-weeks of Initial Officer Training on the Specialist Entrant and Re-Entrant (SERE) course at RAF College Cranwell in Lincolnshire. This will be followed by 2-weeks study on a Basic Air Warfare Course, also at Cranwell. Following SERE, trainees will undertake a further 3-weeks of specialist medical training on the ‘Introduction to Medical, Dental and Nursing Officers’ course. Once qualified, trainees will be given their first posting. Further professional, clinical and management training will be provided as necessary throughout a career.
  • Physiotherapists form a sub-branch of the Medical Support Officer (MSO) branch of the RAF Medical Services. Depending on an individual’s professional experience, they could be employed in a variety of challenging clinical or management roles. Individuals may find themselves in a hospital setting dealing with acute medical and surgical cases, or perhaps in one of the RAFs primary care rehabilitation facilities, caring for injured military personnel. There is also the opportunity to work on a front-line operational base, at a Regional Rehabilitation Unit or at the nationally renowned centre of excellence at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court in Surrey. It is highly likely that individuals will be deployed in support of a military campaign, where they will provide essential care to front-line personnel in the most challenging of environments.
  • Qualifications and experience: must be a graduate physiotherapist and registered with the Health Professions Council. Individuals must also have GCSE/SCEs at Grade C/3 in English language and maths. Graduates with at least two years’ experience and who have attended a formal postgraduate training programme are preferred; however, newly qualified graduates may be considered on merit.
  • Personal qualities: In addition to professional skills, individuals will also need to be physically fit and able to communicate well, both in writing and orally. RAF officers need to lead and motivate their personnel, so it would be beneficial if individuals are able to demonstrate some experience of teamwork and leadership.

8.0     Nursing Officer

  • Specialist Training: After SERE, trainees will attend the Basic Air Warfare Course and join their Medical and Dental Officer colleagues on the Initial Medical, Dental and Nursing Officer Course which provides an orientation in Military Medicine.
  • As a Nursing Officer in the RAF, individuals will provide high standards of nursing care to RAF personnel, members of other Services and entitled civilians. Nursing Officers could be working on a ward in Cyprus, in a specialist unit in the UK, or even 30,000 feet up in an aircraft on aeromedical evacuation duties. New postings every two or three years will keep nursing skills sharp and offer plenty of scope for promotion. A career in the Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service (PMRAFNS) offers individuals the kind of variety they are unlikely to find anywhere else in the nursing profession.
  • Golden hello: Qualified Adult Nurses who hold an additional qualification in Accident and Emergency, Intensive Care or Theatre Nursing may be eligible for a ‘Golden Hello’ of £20,000 (taxable and payable over two instalments) (last checked April 2014).

9.0     Operating Department Practitioner (ODP)

  • Specialist Training: If joining with a professional qualification recognised by the Health Professions Council trainees will, following completion of RTS, be posted into their first Unit. If joining with appropriate A-levels/Highers or equivalent, specialist training will start with a 2-year Diploma in Higher Education in Operating Department Practice at the Royal College of Defence Medicine at the Birmingham City University. This will qualify trainees for membership of the Health Professions Council. At the end of the course, trainees will get their first assignment.
  • Ongoing Development: As a military ODP, individuals will have extensive opportunities for further professional development throughout their career, including the opportunity after 3 years post qualification to apply for the Advanced Scrub Practitioner Course to allow them to become a surgical assistant, and other postgraduate qualifications.
  • As an ODP, individuals will be part of the theatre team that provides quality care for patients in the operating theatres of Defence Secondary Care Agency hospital units in the UK and Cyprus. Having been trained in all aspects of working in an operating theatre, individuals will prepare and maintain the theatre and its equipment, assist the surgical team during operations and provide support in the recovery room.
  • Professional Qualifications: If an individual is already an experienced ODP with the appropriate qualifications, they will start their professional work significantly higher in the RAFs rank and pay structure.

10.0   Pharmacy Technician

  • Specialist Training: If joining with no qualifications as a Pharmacy Technician, training will commence with a short Induction visit to the Department of Pharmacy and Medical Supply (DPMS) at Defence Medical Services Training Group (DMSTG) at Aldershot in Hampshire. Trainees will then be detached to a NHS hospital pharmacy department to undergo a 2-year course leading to the award of Diploma level 3 in Pharmacy Service Skills (competence). In addition trainees will undertake day release to a College where they will undergo a Diploma in Pharmaceutical Science (knowledge). On successful completion of both courses trainees will return to Aldershot for a Professional Topics and Defence Medical Information Capability Programme (DMICP, the computer system used in RAF Medical Centres) course and a medical supplies course, which involves both practical and written assessments: followed by a 6-week placement at Headquarters Tactical Medical Wing. Finally, trainees will complete a placement at a RAF Medical centre for a 3-month period under the supervision of Senior Pharmacy Technician; trainees will then be given their first assignment. Trainees will then be required to complete a First Aid course at DMSTG within 12 months. If joining as a General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) Registered Pharmacy technician, trainees will complete the First Aid course, the Professional Topics, DMICP and the Medical Supplies course. Trainees will also undertake the placements; after which the trainee will receive their first assignment.
  • First Tour: After training, a first tour will be to a unit where individuals can consolidate their specialist training and broaden their specialist knowledge. This is usually at a RAF Primary Healthcare Medical Centre.
  • Ongoing Development: As a Pharmacy Technician, there are extensive opportunities for continuous professional development throughout a career, including the chance to gain higher civilian professional qualifications. Individuals can apply for funding for courses through the RAF Medical Services. This will assist them in completing and recording of their Continuous Professional Development (CPD) entries as part of the mandatory registration process with the professional regulator the GPhC.
  • As a Pharmacy Technician, individuals will provide professional pharmacy support and advice at medical centres on RAF stations and at Defence Secondary Care Agency hospital units in the UK and Cyprus. As in the civilian sector, the main roles will be dispensing medication, giving pharmaceutical advice and providing logistical support by ordering and looking after medical supplies. Pharmacy Technicians in the RAF can expect a greater range of responsibility, tasks and working locations than in civilian life, including the opportunity to take part in operational deployments. In Medical Logistics, individuals could be based at a military Medical Distribution Centre, where they will supply units with medical equipment, supplies and medication. There are also opportunities to work with the Headquarters Tactical Medical Wing, where individuals would be responsible for the maintenance, co-ordination and deployment of operational medical modules for deployed RAF medical teams.

11.0   Radiographer

  • Graduate Training: If joining without qualifications in radiography, training will continue with a 2-week first aid course. Then, for the next three years, trainees will study for a BSc in Diagnostic Radiography at the Birmingham City University, with practical training in Ministry of Defence Hospital Units (MDHUs) and civilian hospitals. This degree will qualify trainees for state registration as a Radiographer with the Health Professions Council. When the degree is completed, trainees will get their first assignment.If you are joining as a qualified state-registered Radiographer, following recruit training individuals will be assigned to a Ministry of Defence Hospital Unit in an NHS hospital or to the military hospital in Cyprus.
  • First Tour: the first posting will probably be to the Centre for Defence Imaging at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham. Individuals will work as part of a team of military Radiographers to allow them to gain confidence and experience. Patients will include both Service personnel and civilians, ranging from young Service personnel injured on operations to elderly NHS patients.
  • Ongoing development: as a Radiographer, individuals will have opportunities for further professional development throughout their career, including postgraduate qualifications. Currently, RAF Radiographers hold postgraduate qualifications in ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging and computerised tomography. Additionally, individuals will need to maintain their registration with the Health Professions Council and the RAF will support attendance at radiography training days and conferences.
  • Radiographers take and process the X-ray images needed for diagnostic purposes. As a Radiographer, individuals will work in either the tri-Service Centre for Defence Imaging in Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham, the Ministry of Defence Hospital Units (MDHUs) at Peterborough and Portsmouth or overseas in the Princess Mary’s Hospital at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. Individuals may also get the opportunity to work in the other military MDHUs at Derriford, Frimley Park and Northallerton. Within the first few years of service, and following appropriate training, individuals will probably be detached overseas for anything from a few days to a few months. It is on operations and exercises that the skills as a military radiographer will be really tested: responsible for producing images as near to hospital standard as possible in a range of challenging environments anywhere in the world.
  • Professional Qualifications: If already a state-registered radiographer and holding a degree or graduate diploma in radiography when joining, individuals will start their career at the rank of Corporal, with the opportunity to be promoted to Sergeant two years later. The RAF provides training for student radiographers through Birmingham City University, which has full accreditation by civilian organisations. Training for an Honours Degree in Diagnostic Radiography takes three academic years and individuals will be expected to complete a minimum of three years service post-graduation.

12.0   RAF Medic

  • Specialist Training: is 6-months at the Defence School of Medical Technical Training currently located at Keogh Barracks which is a Tri-Service training establishment near Aldershot in Hampshire. This training will provide an introduction to pre-hospital care. Trainees will also be taught medical administration and basic healthcare skills. At the end of the course, trainees will have gained a Health and Safety Executive Certificate in First Aid at Work and an Apprenticeship in Health and Social Care. This Apprenticeship consists of three individual qualifications: an NVQ Level 2 in Health and Social Care, a Technical Certificate in Health and Social Care and Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number. On graduation, trainees will receive their first assignment as an RAF Medic.
  • First Tour: For a first tour, individuals will be posted to the medical centre on an RAF station, where they will work with other RAF Medics, Doctors, Nurses, Pharmacy Technicians, Environmental Health Technicians and Physiotherapists as part of a multi disciplinary team. RAF Medics organise appointments for doctors’ consultations, look after both electronic and paper medical records and work with the stock control system for medical supplies and pharmaceuticals. Additionally, they will have the opportunity to perform minor injury/ailment consultations under the supervision of the Practice Nurse. Individuals may also be required to carry out the role of Duty Medic and be responsible for providing airfield emergency response as well as providing a response to other types of medical emergencies.
  • Ongoing development: As a career progresses, the RAF will continue to train individuals in new skills. If required, individuals will be sent on a course which will qualify them to form part of an aeromedical evacuation team. This qualification could see individuals flying all around the world and within the UK to escort military patients with varying degrees of injury or illness back to the UK. After gaining clinical experience and following successful selection, there is the opportunity for RAF Medics to undergo training to become an HPC Registered Paramedic. As individuals progress the experiences gained will prepare them to take overall responsibility for the management of a medical centre, thus becoming the Practice Manager.
  • RAF Medics provide essential medical and medical administrative support to the RAF. They manage medical documentation including electronic medical records, as well as forming part of a team that responds to medical emergencies. RAF Medics will also provide some basic nursing care in both treatment room and bedded medical centres. Whilst working in a medical centre, RAF Medics could work in a medical administration, booking appointments and keeping patients medical records up to date. They may also be employed within the medical stores responsible for the receipt and storage of medical supplies and pharmaceuticals, and under supervision, dispense prescribed medication. RAF Medics have a clinical role and are trained in pre-hospital emergency care. They provide a medical response in the event of a road or air emergency, as well as for a variety of non-serious routine injuries.

13.0   Registered Nurse (Adult)

  • First Tour: as a Registered Nurse Adult (RN(A)), having completed basic Recruit Training at RAF Halton, individuals will be assigned to work within one of the Ministry of Defence Hospital Units (MDHUs) or alternatively the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine (RCDM). These hospitals are collectively known as secondary healthcare and individuals will be required to undertake at least one tour of duty to consolidate the skills and knowledge they have gained during their undergraduate training. The Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service (PMRAFNS) require highly skilled and broadly experienced nurses and therefore on arrival to the secondary healthcare unit individuals will begin a clinical rotation programme. This will allow them to be mentored through several clinical specialities that are relevant to Military nursing, such as the emergency department, orthopaedics and critical care. Time within secondary healthcare will be spent on caring for both military and civilian patients, which will prepare individuals for their role on military operations overseas. After completion of the first tour within secondary healthcare individuals may wish to specialise as a primary healthcare nurse and work within an RAF medical centre. Within primary healthcare individuals will be working as part of a team dedicated to providing the highest levels of care to military patients and their dependants. Involvement in a variety of health promotional and preventative schemes is a key element of the work as a practice nurse.
  • Ongoing Development: As a qualified RN(A) individuals will be expected to maintain their currency in clinical practice and to be active in their professional development as a nurse. Nurses will have the opportunity to undertake further education and training throughout their career, developing as a clinician. The PMRAFNS prides itself on equipping Nurses with the necessary skills to operate to the highest level in both a peacetime and operational role. There are three main areas of responsibility:
    • Primary healthcare: based in medical centres on RAF stations both in the UK and overseas.
    • Secondary healthcare: based at one of the Ministry of Defence hospital units at Peterborough, Portsmouth, the Royal Centre of Defence Medicine in Birmingham, Frimley Park or Derriford, in the tri-Service rehabilitation unit at Headley Court, or overseas in The Princess Mary’s Hospital at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus.
    • Operational roles: assisting in the aeromedical evacuation of casualties from overseas to hospitals in the UK for treatment, and field hospital nursing.
  • Career prospects: During Phase 1 initial training a trainee holds the rank of Aircraftman/Aircraftwoman (AC) and on successful completion of basic recruit training trainees will progress to their first Unit appointed to the rank of Special Paid Acting Rank Corporal (SPAR Cpl). After a year as an SPAR Cpl individuals will be eligible for promotion to Cpl. Further promotion to the rank of Sergeant (Sgt) and beyond is by competitive selection.

14.0   Registered Nurse (Mental Health)

  • Specialist Training: There will be opportunities for individuals to enhance their mental health qualifications through the military nurse competency learning pathway which consists of a 2-tier system. On completion of each tier individuals will be entitled to apply for enhanced nursing pay with tier 1 attracting a lower rate of pay than tier 2.
  • First Tour: will be to a Department of Community Mental Health where individuals will be mentored. If individuals do not have a qualification in community mental health, the RAF will sponsor them to study part-time for a BSc or Diploma in Community Psychiatric Nursing.
  • Ongoing development: As a Registered Nurse (Mental Health), individuals will have extensive opportunities for further professional development throughout their career, in line with the Post-Registration Education and Practice of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). Individuals will have the opportunity to keep up-to-date in clinical practice and the RAF will encourages attendance at relevant nursing conferences and undertake other training, including graduate and postgraduate qualifications. Currently, a number of RAF Registered Nurses (MH) are studying for MSC degrees. Following additional training, Registered Nurses (Mental Health) may be employed on the Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron based at RAF Brize Norton. There, the role is to provide psychiatric nursing care to those military personnel and dependants requiring repatriation and aeromedical evacuation to the UK. Individuals may also go on overseas operations to provide community mental healthcare to deployed military personnel.
  • As a Registered Nurse (Mental Health) individuals will work in a team with people from many different disciplines at a designated Department of Community Mental Health (DCMH). Through training, CPD and experience individuals will know and understand the specialised diagnostic procedures and modern treatments using drug therapy, social skills and individual psychotherapy necessary for psychiatric nursing care. Community mental health nurses in the RAF deliver care to all Service personnel in a variety of locations with the focus being on treatment, occupational management and health promotion. Individuals will follow NICE guidelines in providing the highest quality of care through evidence-based practice. This practice will involve using modern diagnostic procedures, pharmacological interventions and therapy-based treatment such as EMDR and CBT.

15.0   Student Nurse (Adult)

  • Specialist Training: Undergraduate nurse training for the RN, British Army and RAF is undertaken at and accredited by Birmingham City University alongside civilian student nurse colleagues. The 3-year course consists of a 12-month common foundation phase followed by a 2-year adult speciality branch programme with clinical placements in civilian and some Service areas. Student nurses graduate as RN(A)s on part 1 of the NMC register with a BSc (Hons).
  • Ongoing Development: As a qualified RN(A) individuals will be expected to maintain their currency in clinical practice and to be active in their professional development as a nurse. Individuals will have the opportunity to undertake further education and training throughout their career, developing as a clinician. The PMRAFNS prides itself on equipping Nurses with the necessary skills to operate to the highest level in both a peacetime and operational role.
  • The RAF is a great place to start training as a Student Nurse (Adult). The Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service offers a three-year training course within the Faculty of Health and Community Care at Birmingham City University. About half the time is spent on clinical placements, which take place at both NHS and military establishments. Successful graduation will lead to registration as a Registered Nurse (Adult) with the Nursing and Midwifery Council, together with the award of a BSc (Honours) in nursing. Trainees will then enter productive service as a Registered Nurse (Adult). On qualification as an RN(A) individuals will be assigned to work within one of the Ministry of Defence Hospital Units (MDHUs) or alternatively the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine (RCDM). These hospitals are collectively known as secondary healthcare and individuals will be required to undertake at least one tour of duty to consolidate the skills and knowledge they have gained during their undergraduate training. The PMRAFNS require highly skilled and broadly experienced nurses and therefore on arrival to the secondary healthcare unit individuals will begin a clinical rotation programme. This will allow individuals to be mentored through several clinical specialities that are relevant to Military nursing, such as the emergency department, orthopaedics and critical care. Time within secondary healthcare is spent caring for both military and civilian patients which will prepare individual for their role on military operations overseas. For more information about the entry criteria for the Student Nurse role take a look at the Birmingham City University web page.
  • Career prospects: During Phase 1 initial training a trainee holds the rank of Aircraftman/Aircraftwoman (AC) and on successful completion of basic recruit training trainees will progress to BCU at the rank of Leading Aircraftman/Aircraftwoman (LAC). After completing the common foundation phase of the RN(A) course individuals will be promoted to Senior Aircraftman/Aircraftwoman (SAC) until they graduate from BCU. On assignment to their first Unit they will be appointed the rank of Special Paid Acting Rank Corporal (SPAR Cpl).  After a year as an SPAR Cpl individuals will be eligible for promotion to Cpl. Further promotion to the rank of Sergeant (Sgt) and beyond is by competitive selection.
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8 thoughts on “RAF Medical Roles

  1. Hi Jenny,
    Im currently in my second year of studying Radiotherapy and oncology. I have been given alot of thought into joining the RAF when i qualify as a radiographer. However i was wondering in what capacity i will be able to work at, as i didn’t study diagnostic radiography, so was wondering if i joined the RAF will my degree be void as its not really relate able.

    1. Hi Joe,

      You will need to speak with the RAF recruiting team to determine if your degree is considered equivalent to a BSc Hons in Diagnostic Radiography.

  2. Hi Andrew Thank you for your explanations it does sound like a gp receptionist . Unfortunately, the title Medic is totally misleading, it appears there is not a role or pathway in the services for someone who wants to be a paramedic or equivalent. I presume that paramedics would have done their training as a civilian then joined. It is a shame but so glad to have a understanding now rather than join and be disappointed.

  3. Hi Thanks for your reply. He understands all the other benefits such as sport he is very fit and plays rugby, boxing gym and travel but has had his doubts due to a RAF person informing him that a medic is like a receptionist and rubbish and that the website is misleading as only a few get chosen to do paramedic training and it not a natural progression. This is why I was asking what the role entailed, is the medic training clinical and once qualified as a medic do they do clinical duties rather than administration, dealing with medical stores. Is it equivalent of a hca in NHS hospital or eca with the ambulance service or a receptionist in a drs surgery/ hospital.

    1. Hi Jenny,

      If your son wishes to pursue a purely (or primarily) clinical role then the nurse pathway may be more advisable. In the Army, for example, a Sergeant Combat Medical Technician (CMT) (RAF Medic equivalent) would operate as the Practice Manager, usually with a Corporal/Lance Corporal CMT assisting. There would also be a (civilian) nurse, a medical secretary and several doctors in the military GP practice. The CMTs have administrative duties (patient database, patient letters, appointment scheduling etc.) and clinical duties (dispensing drugs prescribed by a doctor, immunisations, tests/assessments (spirograph, hearing etc.) in preparation for medicals by a doctor). The precise organisation of a military GP practice and duties performed varies between the bases. Progression to a specialised role is not automatic/guaranteed and is based on merit.

      Plus, there are also opportunities for expansion into non-medical roles. For example, Commando/Para course; Military Fitness Instructor; Skill at Arms Instructor; CBRN Instructor; Adventure Training (basic, advanced and instructor qualifications); and/or Trainer role (i.e. training RAF Medics on initial and upgrading courses).

  4. My son is interested in becoming a Raf medic but has concerns that it is mostly a administration type job rather than a clinical role. Please can some one who has done the training and in a role as a raf medic explain what they actually do.

    1. Hi Jenny,

      Yes, the role does involve administrative duties but there are a variety of opportunities beyond that. For example, there is: the prestigious Aeromedical Evacuation Team; advancement to Practice Manager; participation in sporting events and adventure training; and overseas travel to name just a few. Administration is part of the job but there are so many opportunities that a civilian Medic would not have access to as (a normal) part of their career that a RAF Medic would have access to as a matter of course. As a RAF Medic the RAF will pay for your training, civilians pay for their own.

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