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Medical Officer

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Overview

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.

Transcript

TITLE:

MEDICAL OFFICER

LIEUTENANT-COMMANDER SEBASTIAN VUONG: I’m Lieutenant-Commander Sebastian Vuong from Brampton, Ontario. I’m a Medical Officer currently posted to Canadian Forces Base Borden.

Medical Officers serve an important role in the Canadian Armed Forces, providing direct care to uniformed men and women both at home and abroad. Serving as a Medical Officer means practising family medicine (or an impressive variety of advanced specialties) at the highest level – without the responsibilities, distractions, and expenses of maintaining a private office.  

VUONG: Practice in the military happens in a very interdisciplinary and team-oriented environment, which may differ from a lot of civilian practices. We work with medics, physician assistants, pharmacists, nurses, social workers, lab techs, x-ray techs, clinical psychologists – and it’s very much a team-based approach when providing health care.

As leaders of a proficient and highly motivated healthcare team, Medical Officers can be assigned to work in a clinical setting or in the field to deliver primary health care services.  

Medical Officers have the opportunity to continually upgrade their knowledge and skills. Many spend part of their service maintaining and enhancing their clinical skills in some of Canada’s leading civilian medical centres.

VUONG: Practising medicine as a Canadian Armed Forces Medical Officer means that there’s a critical occupational health component. Your patients are generally younger, healthier, more fit individuals. So they’re also motivated to take charge of their health. While we may not have the full breadth of exposure to family medicine in our military practice, we do have the opportunity, in a civilian setting, to be able to continue to see things like pediatrics and neonates and the elderly.

But there are also unlimited opportunities – and adventures – that can include overseas deployments with the Army, Navy and Air Force; humanitarian missions to developing countries; as well as rugged outdoor exercises.

VUONG: First and foremost, I think that practising medicine in the military compared to a civilian setting presents a lot more diverse clinical practice environments, which is something that’s very attractive to me.

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. For many Medical Officers, serving Canada’s fighting men and women in an operational environment is a moving and unforgettable experience.

VUONG: So I’ve had the fantastic opportunity to deploy overseas. My first mission was providing medical screening for Syrian refugees. I will never forget a family – when the father asked me, “Will my children have a future in Canada? Will they have the opportunity?” and that was really their main focus. My parents themselves were refugees from Vietnam, and they escaped the Vietnam war and came to Canada. And I was able to look at them and say: “Just look right in front of you” and kind of relate and connect in that way. So that was a really powerful and defining moment in my career.

Once they complete their entry-level occupational training, most Medical Officers begin their military career with a three- to four-year posting at a Canadian Forces Base as a General Duty Medical Officer.

During their initial four-year posting, Medical Officers can expect to deploy at least once on either a humanitarian or disaster-relief mission, or to a conflict or post-conflict region.

Medical Officers have great opportunities for professional growth and development.  After several years on the job, they may have the opportunity to apply for fully subsidized specialty training in fields that include radiology, orthopaedics, general surgery, anesthesiology, psychiatry, internal medicine, as well as physical medicine and rehabilitation. There are also unique opportunities for specialized training in submarine, aviation and diving medicine, aeromedical evacuation, nuclear and biological warfare response, occupational medicine and special operations.

VUONG: I’m currently a flight surgeon, which means that I provide health care to air crew as well as advise on flight safety matters, and on occasion, deploy with squadrons overseas.

 

 

VUONG: When I joined the military, I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve really been pleasantly surprised so far. Just being able to travel to different parts of the world and to be able to deliver health care in different settings has been a huge highlight of my career. Almost equally to that is the camaraderie and the teamwork. Whenever I retire from the military, I’ll most remember the people that I served with.

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

Planning is underway for a potential MOTP Surge 2020; however, the number of seats that may be offered, if any, is dependent on how much capacity the universities have after the first round in CaRMS. Prospective MOTP Surge 2020 applicants are encouraged to keep an eye out in CaRMS as any seats available for MOTP Surge 2020 will be posted, at the earliest, in the second round. At this time, we are not planning to have a scramble at the end of round two as we did during MOTP Surge 2019; however, a scramble may take place should Family Medicine Residency seats remain available after the second round. Updated information will be posted on the Canadian Forces Health Services website - http://forces.ca/en/career/medical-officer/ - once it becomes available.

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 Jack MacFarlane

Canadian Forces Health Services Specialist Recruiter – Ontario
Sergeant Laen Hanson 

Canadian Forces Health Services Specialist Recruiter – Eastern
Captain Simon Pelchat

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 92.8% of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.