Intended for healthcare professionals

Student Careers

Being a soldier and a medic

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: (Published 01 February 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:h5891
  1. Mathew Billingsley, editor, Student BMJ

Matt Ellington leads a double life as a junior doctor and army reservist

Matt Ellington is a clinical fellow in emergency medicine at Tunbridge Wells Hospital in Kent. He went to medical school in Birmingham and completed his foundation years in Cambridge and Ipswich.

Why did you decide to volunteer for the army reservists?

As a junior doctor I was well versed in the daily battle of requesting scans, completing discharge paperwork, prescribing fluids, and doing lengthy ward rounds. I found this all fairly unstimulating, so I decided to search for something more exciting. I had considered a career in the military, and my interest was heightened at medical school when I witnessed the incredible work done by the medical teams in Afghanistan. They were often working in tents and in austere conditions, but I was amazed that the survival rate for trauma patients at Camp Bastion [Ministry of Defence airbase in Helmand province, Afganistan] was 97%, which is higher than NHS hospitals in the United Kingdom. One of the main reasons I joined [the army reserves] was the wealth of extracurricular activities and experiences that are offered. There are opportunities to work in the field, learn how to shoot new weapons, and take part in training that involves skiing, mountain biking, and hiking.

What is your role and what does the training pathway involve?

My role in the army is as a general duties medical officer. It can be as varied as it sounds, but typically involves …

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