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The Blog Begins

Hello Shippers, this is my first entry in what will hopefully be a relatively amusing account of what a Royal Navy Medical Officer gets up to at sea.

I am onboard HMS RICHMOND which is a type 23 frigate. We left Portsmouth on Monday morning in procedure alpha, where we all get in our number 1 uniform and line the upper deck. Many families and friends braved the cold wet weather to stand on round tower and wave us off on our deployment to the Gulf as part of Operation Telic, the UK’s contribution to the international coalition of warships conducting maritime security in the region.

Having spent several years ashore this is my first long deployment and I am really looking forward to the challenges that it will bring. We will be working hard but will also have the chance to let our hair down on some port visits which you will hear more about in future blogs. This morning has been a little busy with several people complaining of sea sickness. We are bumping across the ocean in fairly rough weather with reports that the sea state could reach 9 later.  I can tell you that is not much fun for everyone onboard and anything that could possibly move is tied down. In the Medical department we have myself and a Leading Medical Assistant who is a well trained medic, sort of like a paramedic. The sickbay is well equipped to deal with minor everyday problems as well as the capability to deal with a major incident.

When at home, I am Commanding Officer of HMS DOLPHIN Volunteer Cadet Corp, kids from 9-17 who want to learn a bit about the Navy and compete in fieldgun competitions. There are all going to keep an eye on this website to see what I am up to, So hello to HMS DOLPHIN VCC.

The whole ships company are looking forward to getting further south to some better weather…. bring on the sunshine!!!!!!!


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  1. sotonbloke said:

    Hi Lisa,
    I was wondering how long postings to SPAG generally last for?It sounds very interesting! Also, are postings to SPAG open to all MOs or only those interested in a diving medicine career? Lastly do MOs generally get their preferred postings? Sorry for all the questions. Cheers

  2. sotonbloke said:

    Sorry, one more question:) With regards to medical cadetship,I intend to apply for one at the end of my second year. However I also intend to intercalate in a MRes at a end of my fourth year. Can one intercalate whiles holding a cadetship? as this means an extra year of study.Thanks a lot

  3. Lisa Martin said:

    Hi Sotonbloke

    The job as SPAG medical officer is twinned with that of Medical Officer for the Submarine Escape Training Tank. You have to complete 3 months training in Diving Medicine at the Institute of Naval Medicine but do not have to have any prior diving knowledge. You then do approx 1 year in the job. Your general duties time lasts for 2.5 years after New Entry Medical Officers course. You can read more about this at the careers part of the website. If you have particular jobs that you think you might like to do eg work with the Royal Marines or on Submarines then you can let your appointer know early that you are interested. You can never be guaranteed the jobs you want but most people enjoy themselves where ever they end up.

    Medical Cadetships are available for your last 3 years of university. I also did an intercalated degree in my 5th year at medical school and so applied for my cadet ship after year 3 and then it ran for the final 3 years. You can contact your local careers officer who will help with starting the application process. It is also useful to join the University Royal Naval Unit to gain some Naval experience and have a lot of fun in the process.

    Hope that all helps, feel free to ask any further questions you have.

  4. sotonbloke said:

    Thanks for the response Lisa. Few more questions if you don’t mind! how competitive are medical cadetships? and what did you get up to,navy wise, in your final three years? Also what are you career aspirations if I may ask.Cheers

  5. Lisa Martin said:

    Hello again

    There is competition for medical cadetships but I do not know recent figures for number of applications against those accepted. There are 2 stages to the application. You will go forward to Admiralty Interview Board(AIB) where you will need to gain a good score to then go forward to the Medical Cadetship selection board, so although you pass AIB this does not guarantee you a Cadetship. There are also a significant number of people who do not prepare enough for the AIB and fail. Advice on what to expect and topics to read up on will be given to you by the recruitment team when you are put forward to AIB.

    Having a cadetship gives you lots of opportunities during your time at Uni to get involved with the Navy. I deployed for 2 months on a frigate as a 2nd Officer of the Watch to build on navigation and seamanship that I had learnt in the University Royal Naval Unit, did a placement in a major trauma centre in Washington DC and spend time in Gibraltar at the RN Medical Centre as part of my GP experience.

    Due to injury I did 2 years in SHO jobs after New entry medical officers course to start training as an anaesthetist, during my general duties I have had a bit of a re-think and really enjoyed Diving Medicine. I now plan to go through GP training followed by Occupational Medicine to continue working in Diving Medicine. Hopefully I can keep doing some pre-hospital work too as I enjoy pre-hospital medicine.

    Keep the questions coming, always keen to help.