How To Become An Army (Military) Doctor In Australia?

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Students want to know how to become army or military doctors in Australia.


Do you like medicine, the military, and helping patients? If yes, you can pursue a career as an Army Doctor.


Army Doctors provide medical treatments and preventive services to Army personnel and their dependents worldwide. They use their specialist medical skills and knowledge to enable the armed forces to operate efficiently in training and operational environments.


To become an army doctor, you need to be a medical practitioner and gain at least six months of experience as a general practitioner. Additionally, pass medical assessments, aptitude tests, and security clearances to join the Australian Defence Force.


If you want to make a rewarding career, this blog is for you. Learn about the role of an army or military doctor, what skills, education, and training they have, how much salary they earn, where they work, and how to get started in this profession in Australia.



1. What Is An Army Doctor?


Army Doctors are professionals responsible for the overall physical and mental health of Army personnel. They apply their advanced therapeutic skills to challenging scenarios that promise travel and adventure experiences. 


Army Doctors work in teams in Army hospitals or medical centres or as independent practitioners with leading Army units.



2. What Does An Army Doctor Do?


The job of Army doctors is exciting. They provide a range of medical services to the Army. Their most common duties and responsibilities include:


  • Investigate the cause of illness, advise on medication, and conduct routine follow-ups 

  • Provide pre-hospital care, such as initial wound surgery, rehabilitation, emergency battlefield care, post-operative care, and preventive and aviation medical support.

  • Work closely with specialist medical professionals, including medical officers, radiographers, pathologists, paramedics, preventive medicine operators, operating theatre technicians, and medical technicians.

  • Work in various units such as general, close, and health support battalions and provide support to the 1st, 3rd, and 7th Army manoeuvre Brigades and the Reserve 2nd Division

  • Practice as physicians in various specialisations based on the Army's needs, such as preventive medicine, paediatrics dermatology, oncology, and nuclear medicine.



3. Army Doctor Skills For Success


Here are the most sought-after skills that the Australian Army looks for in a prospective military medical officer:


  • Passionate to serve the country

  • Military Zeal and Competency

  • Physical fitness

  • Determination

  • Self-discipline

  • Self-motivated

  • Flexible

  • Able to handle intense pressure and stress

  • Remarkable Critical Thinking

  • Quick decision-making skills

  • Able to pass physical requirements and security clearance to contract with the ADF



4. Qualifications To Become An Army Officer In Australia


You must meet the following personal and academic requirements to work as a Doctor in the Australian Army Reserve:


  1. Above 17 years of age

  2. You must be an Australian Citizen to serve in the ADF. 

  3. Study medicine in the Australian Army. Hold a degree in medicine from a reputed tertiary institution.

  4. Complete a Hospital Internship

  5. Register as a medical practitioner with AHPRA in a State/Territory of Australia. 

  6. Have at least six months of recognised experience in general practice.

  7. You must fulfil the Australian army medical requirements, including showing your physical fitness and completing a medical examination to enter the ADF.

  8. Complete an Online Aptitude Test as part of the application process to join the Australian Defence Force. The test is to check if you are suitable for ADF entry and find the best jobs per your abilities.

  9. A security clearance is essential for the successful progression of an application through the recruitment process. The Department of Defence mandates that ADF employees complete an employment-appropriate security clearance, including background checks, necessary documentation, and interviews


This process will enable the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency to perform an informed evaluation of the applicant for a security clearance. After completing security clearance, you can be trained and recruited in your preferred employment category.



5. Steps To Become A Doctor In The Australian Army


Do you want to work on the well-being of the Australian Army? Here are the steps that will help you achieve your goal.



Step 1: Study Medicine In The Australian Army


The first step to becoming a Military doctor is to earn a 5–7-year full-time Bachelor of Medical Studies/ Doctor of Medicine. The course comprises a dynamic blend of research focussed learning and hands-on experience. 


It equips students with the necessary research skills and clinical knowledge to prepare them for professional practice.


UNSW, The University of Sydney, The University of Adelaide, Curtin University, The University of New Castle, Monash University, and The University of Queensland are the top Australian universities to study a medical degree.



Step 2: Gain Experience


Consider completing an internship in medical centres, hospitals, or similar environments to strengthen your candidacy.



Step 3: Gain Professional Registration


With the essential qualifications and experience, apply for a medical practitioner registration with AHPRA in the State/ Territory where you wish to work.



Step 4: Obtain Work Experience As a GP


Having become a GP, you should get at least six months of recognised experience in "General Practice" to qualify to apply for an Army Doctor role in the Australian Army.



Step 5: Meet ADF Requirements


Several candidates aspire to join the ADF each year, and only a chosen few make it to the last. All competing candidates must pass the Initial Fitness Assessment, Aptitude Test, and Security clearance test. 


Passing these tests is compulsory for completing the training offered at Royal Military College.



Step 6: Complete ADF Training Programs


Shortlisted candidates join the Australian Defence Force and undertake the mandatory SSO course, Basic course, and Employment training to start working as Military Medical doctors in ADF.


The Specialist Service Officer (SSO) course teaches military skills, leadership knowledge, personnel administration, command and control, and officer behaviour essentials for future employment. The program consists of 3 modules of varying durations.


After you complete the initial officer course, you will have to complete a few military and clinically centric programs over 1 or 1 ½ years to get ready to get deployed on operations.



Basic Training


Next, the trainees must attend the Army's Officer Basic Course. It focuses on leadership training, physical fitness standards, and Army regulations to become direct commission officers in the Army.



Employment Training


After completing the introductory training course, Doctors must complete a 2-week Logistic Officers Basic Course. It teaches trainees about the classification of health services and illnesses, the organisation of a medical system, preventive medicine, and the duties of a Regimental Medical Officer.


Interested candidates can refer to the Defence Health Service website and click on this link to apply for the job.



6. What Is A Graduate Medical Program?


The Graduate Medical Program sponsors candidates with relevant qualifications to qualify as medical practitioners. After completing this program, followed by a 2-year residency program at a teaching hospital, they can work as a Medical officer in the Australian Defence Force.


Candidates whose application is accepted for sponsorship in the Graduate Medical Program complete a 4-year degree course at Australian universities that offer the graduate medical program. 


They reimburse all reasonable costs incurred. These include tuition fees, books, and travel expenses for thesis work.



7. Conditions Of An Army Doctor


Army Doctors may work wherever the Australian Army goes to provide specialist care in sea, land, aviation environments, humanitarian cases, international activities, and operations.


Army Doctors may work with various patients, including healthy adults, refugees, and battle casualties. You may work as a solo medical practitioner with elite Army units or in a team nationwide in hospitals and Army medical centres.


Army doctors usually work 38 hours weekly, divided into civilian or military work. It helps them seek the balance between catering to the patient's needs while working on civilian land and devoting time to the military.



8. Life As A Military Doctor In The Australian Army


Qualified and registered medical practitioners working in the Australian Army become members of the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps (RAAMC). It aims to provide superior health care to the Australian Army and conserve the workforce through medical means.


Being part of the RAAMC, you get access to contemporary and mobile operating environments, innovative technology, equipment and materials, and assistance.


When working as a full-time Army doctor within RAAMC, you will serve in one of the deployable health units of the national defence force. These are in Brisbane, Darwin, Townsville, Adelaide, and Sydney


You may even deploy to a domestic field setting to support Australian Army training or travel overseas for global engagement operations and activities.


Based on your reserve service, you may be deployed regionally or overseas and work in various fields, from primary care (rehabilitation and trauma) to tropical medicine and population health. Some of these include:



  • Clinics

  • General hospitals 

  • Health centres

  • Stationary hospitals

  • Casualty clearing stations

  • Field ambulance unit or Field hospital

  • Hospital ships 

  • Bacteriological and pathology labs

  • Sanitary sections 

  • Infection diseases hospitals

  • Hospital laundries 

  • Convalescent depots

  • Sanatoriums

  • Trains


You will also get opportunities to undertake clinical placements to improve your skills and attain Fellowship qualifications.



9. Work Opportunities And Scope Of Specialization For Army Doctors


The Australian Army offers a broad range of direct employment opportunities for Army doctors in areas such as:




Furthermore, Army doctors with several years of experience can train in a specific niche. The Royal Australian Army Medical Corps conducts various post-graduate and training programs in the following areas of specialities:



  • General Practice

  • Orthopaedic Surgery

  • General/Trauma Surgery

  • Intensive Care

  • Anaesthetics

  • Underwater Medicine

  • Emergency Medicine

  • Aviation Medicine

  • Occupational Medicine

  • Medical Administration

  • Public Health Medicine


The Australian army doctor rank depends on the experience as a physician and past military service, if applicable. Regardless of the specialisation, you choose a career as a Military Medical doctor who combines the unique occupations of an Army Officer and a medical practitioner.


For medical students, RAAMC pays for the tuition fee and offers financial assistance in pursuing a post-graduate training program.



10. How Can Army Doctors Specialize As General Practitioners?


Working as an Army Doctor is one of the most fulfilling ways to serve young Australian army men and women and improve their overall well-being. Army doctors can specialise as general practitioners by completing an Australian General Practice Training Program. 


It is a great way to prepare for a General Practitioner role in rural and remote regions of Australia.


As a GP, you are responsible for providing chronic health care services and ensuring that they are medically fit for military service's mental and physical demands. GPs oversee and assist with the rehabilitation and recovery of injured soldiers.


To enter the general practice training program, you must hold a medical degree and work as a junior medical doctor in Australia. To secure a place in the program, candidates must pass the Graduate Australian Medical School Admissions Test, which assesses their secondary school-level mathematics and science knowledge.


James Cook University offers 3-4 years of full-time General Practice Training program in North-Western Queensland since many Australian Defence Force bases are in that region. The training takes place at Townsville's Lavarack Barracks.


The course is for Army doctors who want to specialise in general practice or medical graduates eager to offer the highest levels of support to army personnel. 


Undertaking GP training, students develop a basic knowledge of general practice and rural medicine. If you are interested in taking General Practice Training at JCU, click here to find more details about the training program.


After completing the training program, GP registrars can apply for a fellowship with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine, or both.


These fellowships will lead you to a specialist general practitioner registration with the Medical Board of Australia. Becoming a registered GP practitioner allows you to work independently anywhere in Australia.



11. Where Can You Work As A Royal Australian Army Medical Corps Personnel?


The Royal Australian Army Medical Corps (RAAMC) personnel are working in the following units:


  • 1st Health Battalion: Darwin and Perth

  • 2nd Health Battalion: Enoggera and Sydney

  • 3rd Health Battalion: Keswick, Edinburgh, Melbourne, and Hobart

  • 4th Health Battalion: Townsville and Cairns

  • Medical Centres at Kapooka, Bandiana, and Canberra

  • Army Logistic Training Centre: (Albury–Wodonga)

  • Army Malaria Institute: (Enoggera)

  • Australia's Federation Guard: Canberra



12. What Benefits Does The ADF Offer To Army Doctors?


Most candidates aspire to join the Australian Defence Force for its rewarding blend of lifestyle and career opportunities. ADF also offers a comprehensive package for dental, medical, allied health, and welfare services.


List of benefits that Army Doctors can expect by working in ADF:


  • A dynamic place to work and play 

  • Lifelong camaraderie

  • Variety of medical experience in civilian environments and trauma

  • Opportunities to practice clinical medicine or advance into a leadership or managerial role

  • Job satisfaction

  • Challenging environment

  • Interesting, diverse, and stimulating work

  • Flexible working options

  • Good work/life balance

  • Job security 

  • Medical and dental cover

  • The ADF offers competitive salary packages with generous benefits, including free housing assistance, educational opportunities, free healthcare, and deployment bonuses for specific medical specialities.

  • Advanced technology

  • Humanitarian and community-support work

  • Unique experiences 

  • The unique culture of teamwork, fitness, and adventure 

  • Training and development

  • Develop highly sought-after leadership and management skills 

  • Opportunity to travel the country and the world

  • Access to excellent social and sporting facilities



13. Job Outlook For Army Doctors In Australia


Looking after the armed forces, fitness, health, and mental well-being are high priorities for the ADF. Due to this, there is a constant need for trained Army doctors in the Australian Army. Over a thousand active duty and reserve physicians in specific specialities working in the ADF.


Along with excellent career advancement opportunities and service benefits, the army medical department is among the country's leading research medical institutions with global reach.


The Australian Army Defence Force constantly recruits new physicians to replace doctors who retire or rise to senior positions. The job outlook for Army doctors is better than average and will stay positive in the foreseeable future. 


After completing their service commitment, retired Army doctors can remain in the medical corps as "Army reservists".



14. How Much Does An Army Doctor Get Paid In Australia?


Army doctors in the Australian Defence Force earn decent compensation from day one. They also receive generous superannuation, pay allowances, and benefits on top of their salary.


The best part is receiving a 100% salary without tax deductions. Earnings continue to increase based on your years of service, seniority, and rank.


As you join the ADF, you will undertake military and employment training. You will earn a tax-free daily rate starting at $325 per day when you engage in training. On becoming fully trained, an Australian army doctor's salary is tax-free at $325 per day.


They review salary scales regularly on the Defence Jobs website. Click here for more details.



15. Conclusion


Being a Military Medical Officer in the Australian Defence Force is a rewarding opportunity to contribute to combat, disaster relief, and humanitarian operations.


You enjoy career development and progression opportunities and develop an array of management, leadership, and clinical skills that will benefit you throughout your career.


Though international and domestic commitments may take you away from family and home, a career in the defence force is noble, fulfilling, and worth pursuing.


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