Medical Officers provide primary health care services for Canadian Forces members, whether at a Canadian Forces Medical Service in Canada 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
Medical Officers may serve anywhere that Canadian Forces' 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 Canadian Forces.
The starting salary for a fully-trained Medical Officer is approximately $148,700 per year; however, depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher. Regular promotions through the junior officer ranks take place based on the completion of required training and the length of service as an officer.
Medical Officers also enjoy no overhead costs for office space and support services. All licensing fees are paid by the Canadian Forces. Medical Officers who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression, promotion, specialization, and sub-specialization.
After enrolment, you start basic officer training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, for 15 weeks. Topics covered include general military knowledge, the principles of leadership, regulations and customs of the Canadian 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.
Second language training is available following basic officer training; depending on your ability in your second language, it may take from two to nine months.
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.
Medical Officers may apply for the opportunity to specialize their medical practice in exchange for additional years of service. The Canadian Forces will subsidize the following medical specializations:
- Acute Care
- Emergency medicine
- Orthopaedic surgery
- Internal medicine
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
- Health care administration
If you already have a medical degree and an unrestricted license to practice family medicine in a Canadian province or territory, the Canadian Forces 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.
Medical Officer Training Plan
Because this position requires a medical degree, the Canadian Forces will pay successful recruits to complete an Undergraduate Medical Education Program at a Canadian university. 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 an Undergraduate Medical Education 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 Canadian Forces 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 Canadian Forces and the Canadian university of your choice that offers a Bachelor of Medicine degree program.
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 Canadian Armed Forces operations and training activities, while building and maintaining links between the Canadian Armed Forces 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.
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 Canadian Armed Forces 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 Canadian Armed Forces. 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 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 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% of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.