Full Time | Part Time | Officer

Medical Officer

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Medical Officers provide primary health care services for Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members, whether at a Canadian Forces Health Services Clinic or overseas in support of peacekeeping or humanitarian missions.

The primary responsibilities of a Medical Officer are to:

  • Lead a clinical team of highly trained professionals
  • Promote health protection and education
  • Provide primary health care
  • Practice environmental medicine, including high-altitude and hyperbaric medicine
  • Promote occupational health and safety

Work environment

Medical Officers may serve anywhere that CAF members are based. They work in fully equipped medical clinics, whether at a base or garrison, or in a temporary clinic while supporting operations. Their first four years following training is usually spent working in one location, within Canada. Office space and support services are provided by the CAF.




I’m Major Arthur Payne from Rocky Harbour, Newfoundland. I’m a Medical Officer and the Base Surgeon for Canadian Forces Base Edmonton.

And I’m Lieutenant Navy Ajiri Ikede. I’m originally from Ibadan, Nigeria. I’m a Medical Officer currently posted to CFB Halifax.

PAYNE: For many physicians, service in the Canadian Forces is an opportunity to push your skills to the limit in a uniquely rewarding health care setting.

Professionally, serving as a Medical Officer allows you to practice family medicine or an impressive variety of advanced specialities at the highest level without the responsibilities, distractions and expenses of maintaining a private office.

Practicing, even general family medicine in the military is vastly different from the civilian context.

IKEDE: We’re dealing with primarily occupational medicine. We’re not just looking at the impact that the conditions might have on the individual, but also what impact it has on their ability to perform their duties in the Forces.

PAYNE: There’s infinite amount of resources available to you. You know, if I see a patient and I think they need an MRI, I can get it tomorrow. The medical care provided to members of the Canadian Forces is second to none.

IKEDE: As a leader of a proficient and highly motivated health-care team, you’ll spend more time with your patients than most civilian physicians and you’ll have the opportunity to continuously upgrade your knowledge and skills.

Financially, the Forces offers an excellent way to pay off student debt or to earn a competitive salary coupled with an outstanding pension, generous benefits and vacation allowances and subsidized advanced education.

We’re very well compensated for our work. It’s comparable to what we’d get on the civilian side and on top of that, medical school is covered, all your books and instruments and things like that.

PAYNE: Medical Officers spend part of their service maintaining and enhancing their clinical skills in some of Canada’s leading civilian medical centres.

So certainly myself and my military colleagues, we all try to maintain some element of practice outside the military. You’re seeing kids, you’re seeing women, you’re seeing geriatric patients. You want to keep those skills alive.

In times of conflict, Medical Officers rise to a unique challenge: to meet the urgent needs of field hospitals and trauma wards on the front lines.

When you deploy to a place like Afghanistan, certainly it becomes a life-changing event for you. You’ll see and do things there that you’ll never do again for the rest of your life.

A lot of times, you have very limited resources or you’ll have an excess of resources, but not exactly the things that you need available to you, so you learn to improvise, adapt, think outside the box.

IKEDE: The unpredictability sometimes can be kind of exciting. Last year, on a day like today, I was working in the clinic and my boss came in and asked me if I liked German beer. Twenty hours later, I was on a plane to Germany and I spent a month there working to fill in on a physician there who had to come back to Canada for a course.

PAYNE: A lot of us join the military because we want to do military things, you know, so just the opportunity to shoot the guns, to ride in the tanks, you know, you go home with a big smile on your face at the end of the day because, you know, that’s not something that everybody gets an opportunity to do.

IKEDE: Medical Officers start their military careers with the Health Services Basic Officer Training Course.

PAYNE: The course includes some rigorous physical fitness training, as well as instruction in basic weapons handling.

IKEDE: When you complete that training, you’ll go on to the Basic Medical Officer Course concentrating on the unique team structure, responsibilities and traditions of a military doctor’s life. That course lasts 4 weeks.

PAYNE: Most Medical Officers begin their military career with a three to four year posting at a Canadian Forces Base.

So you can be working in a clinic where essentially, other than the fact that you’re wearing a military uniform, you’re functioning as a family doctor.

IKEDE: Typically, every morning at 7:30, we have something called sick parade which is sort of like a walk-in for any acute illnesses, so that’s where you’ll see a lot of your sprained ankles and colds and flus. It’s essentially made to deal with any issues that have come up within the last 48 to 72 hours. And then after that, around 9:30, for the rest of the day which will typically end between 3:30 and 4:30, is your regular scheduled appointments like you would have at any family medicine clinic.

Officers assigned to a Field Ambulance unit will receive additional operational training and take part in training exercises that may involve challenging environmental conditions and foreign travel.

PAYNE: During your initial posting, you can expect to deploy at least once on either a humanitarian or disaster-relief mission, aboard a Navy vessel or to a conflict or post-conflict region.

IKEDE: Following your first posting, you may be able to pursue fully-subsidized advanced training in military medical fields such as submarine, aviation or dive medicine, nuclear and biological warfare, as well as Emergency, Sports or Occupational Medicine. And there may also be the opportunity to complete residency training in specialties such as General and Orthopaedic Surgery, Internal Medicine, Radiology and Psychiatry.

IKEDE: I would have to say that my proudest moment as a Medical Officer in the Forces to date has been the opportunity to medical for the Prime Minister and his entourage earlier this year. Just the fact that I was nominated for that meant a lot to me as far as being given that responsibility.

PAYNE: I’ve been to the U.S., I’ve been to the Arctic, Afghanistan, Germany, you know, lots of different areas throughout the world. I was on a sovereignty operation to the Arctic, spent a couple of weeks out patrolling across the Arctic at 50-, you know, living in 10-man tents with my mittens on my feet in the evening to try to keep my toes from freezing. I have done things that I could have never imagined having done in any other environment.

Basic Military Officer Qualification

After enrolment, you start basic officer training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, for 14 weeks. Topics covered include general military knowledge, the principles of leadership, regulations and customs of the Forces, basic weapons handling, and first aid. Opportunities will also be provided to apply such newly acquired military skills in training exercises involving force protection, field training, navigation and leadership. A rigorous physical fitness program is also a vital part of basic training. Basic officer training is provided in English or French and successful completion is a prerequisite for further training.

Following basic officer training, official second language training may be offered to you. Training could take from two to nine months to complete depending on your ability in your second language.

Learn more about Basic Training here.

Available professional training

Medical Officers attend the Canadian Forces Medical Services School in Borden, Ontario, where they are introduced to the organizational structure and history of the Canadian Forces Medical Service and the unique circumstances of practicing military medicine. Environmental training, an operational requirement, includes field exercises that may take place anywhere in the world.

Available specialty training

Medical Officers may apply for the opportunity to specialize their medical practice in exchange for additional years of service. The CAF will subsidize the following medical specializations:

  • Acute Care
  • Emergency medicine
  • Surgery
  • Orthopaedic surgery
  • Anaesthesiology
  • Internal medicine
  • Psychiatry
  • Radiology

Available advanced training

As they progress in their career, Medical Officers who demonstrate the required ability and potential will be offered advanced training. Available training includes:

  • Public Health medicine
  • Occupational medicine
  • Aerospace medicine
  • Tropical medicine
  • Epidemiology
  • Health care administration

Direct entry options

If you already have a medical degree and an unrestricted licence to practise family medicine in a Canadian province or territory, the CAF may place you directly into the required on-the-job training program following basic training. Basic training and military officer qualification training are required before being assigned.

MOTP Surge

What is the MOTP Surge?

The Medical Officer Training Plan (MOTP) Surge is a collaborative initiative between participating Family Medicine Residency Programs across Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) which provides an opportunity for medical students who remain unmatched after the second round in the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) to apply for a residency position in Family Medicine and subsidization through the CAF.

Who is eligible for the MOTP Surge?

In order to be eligible for the MOTP Surge, you must:

  1. be a Canadian citizen;
  2. have obtained your medical degree. Please note that anyone who has obtained their medical education from a non-Canadian university is required to have their education evaluated to a Canadian standard;
  3. have participated in the match process of the CaRMS in 2019; and
  4. pass the screening process (e.g., medical, interview, security/background checks) for enrolment in the CAF.

Application Process

To apply to the CAF, you must send a Notice of Intent to apply to the MOTP Surge 2019 to: HealthSvcsRecruiting-RecrutementSvcsdesante@forces.gc.ca. The subject line of your e-mail must state: MOTP Surge 2019. In the body of your e-mail, you must provide the following:

  • first and last name;
  • date of birth;
  • preferred phone number;
  • preferred e-mail address;
  • university where undergraduate medical education obtained;
  • your current geographic location

Paid education options

Medical Officer Training Plan (MOTP)

Because this position requires a Doctor of Medicine, the CAF will pay successful recruits to complete a recognized Canadian University Medical program. This program covers tuition fees and educational expenses, including books, instruments, supplies, student fees, and registration costs. Family medicine residents and students already enrolled in a recognized Canadian University Medical program may also be eligible for this training plan.

For the duration of your studies and residency, you receive full-time salary including medical and dental care, as well as vacation time with full-pay in exchange for working with the CAF for a period of time. Typically, candidates selected for this program attend university during the regular academic year and participate in additional military training during the summer months. If you choose to apply to this program, you must apply both to the CAF and to a recognized Canadian University Medical program (Medical School).

For further information, please contact a Canadian Forces Health Services Recruiter in your area.

Canadian Forces Health Services Specialist Recruiter – Western
Captain Carol Robitaille

Canadian Forces Health Services Specialist Recruiter – Ontario
Captain Jack MacFarlane

Canadian Forces Health Services Specialist Recruiter – Eastern
Health Services Recruiting

For further information, please contact a Canadian Forces Health Services Recruiter: HealthSvcsRecruiting-RecrutementSvcsdesante@forces.gc.ca

Learn more about our Paid Education programs here.

Serve with the Reserve Force

The role of the Canadian Forces Health Services Reserves is to provide trained personnel to support, augment and sustain Canadian Forces Health Services organizations for CAF operations and training activities, while building and maintaining links between the CAF and the local community.

As a health care professional in the Health Service Reserves, you must have an unrestricted licence to practise in your clinical field (including certification in your specific specialty) and have the ability to maintain clinical currency within your civilian workplace.

This position is available for part-time employment with the Primary Reserve at certain locations across Canada. Reserve Force members usually serve part time with a military unit in their community, and may serve while going to school or working at a civilian job. They are paid during their training. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to move to another base. They may also volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.

Part time employment

Medical Officers may serve with the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army or the Royal Canadian Air Force as part of the Canadian Forces Health Services Group. They are employed to provide primary health care services for CAF members. Those employed on a part-time or casual full-time basis usually serve at a military medical unit at a location within Canada.

Another part-time career opportunity exists for clinical specialists (Anaesthetist, General Surgeon, Internal Medicine Specialist, Orthopaedist, Radiologist, Physiatrist, Psychiatrist, Cardiologist, Dermatologist, Emergentologist, Gastroenterologist, Infectious Disease Specialist, Neurosurgeon, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Ophthalmologist, Thoracic Surgeon, Urologist, Otolaryngologist, Paediatrician, Pathologist, Plastic Surgeon, Physiotherapist, Social Worker, Pharmacist, Bio Science, Dental Specialists, Laboratory Technician, Radiological Technician) and nurses with an emergency, critical care, operating room or mental health specialty to broaden the medical support capability for the Health Services by joining 1 Canadian Field Hospital Detachment Ottawa.

Members of this unit complete a minimum of 14 days of service and/or training at any time during the year, doing any or all of the following: providing health care services to military members, teaching and monitoring clinical skills of personnel at a local Field Ambulance unit, attending field exercises to practise and/or provide medical care in a military field environment. Members of this unit live anywhere across Canada. There is a small headquarters and administration section located in Ottawa, Ontario to assist them. This unit provides a more flexible option than the Canadian Forces Health Service Reserve Field Ambulance Units. It does not put as much demand on your time but provides you with opportunities to work as a member of the CAF. All members of the Canadian Forces Health Services Reserves have an opportunity to work overseas as members of a deployed Canadian Forces Health Services Team, on a voluntary basis.

Reserve Force training

Reserve Force members are trained to the same level as their Regular Force counterparts. All members complete Basic Military Training, which covers topics such as rank structure, wearing a uniform, marching, firing a weapon for self-defence or defence of your patients (as per the Geneva Convention), and surviving in a field environment. This training varies in length and is usually available in two-week sessions or on weekends. You must also complete basic occupational training, which teaches you how to employ your clinical skill/profession within the military environment. This training lasts six weeks and is usually available twice a year, in one-, two- or three-week sessions held at the Canadian Forces Medical Services School in Borden, Ontario. Applicants must have a medical degree and an unrestricted licence to practise family medicine in a Canadian province or territory.

Reserve Working Environment

Reserve Force members usually serve part-time with their home unit for scheduled evenings and weekends, although they may also serve in full-time positions at some units for fixed terms, depending on the type of work that they do. They are paid 85 percent of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.