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Military Doctors: An Overview of Military Occupational Health

Military physicians are an integral part of the active army, filling the roles of officers, either as a career or under contract. They have a distinct professional framework, regulated by specific standards and a hierarchy within the army health service. A portion of them specialize in occupational medicine and health, an important area for the well-being of the armed forces.

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At the heart of the armed forces’ healthcare, two categories of medical officers are distinguished:

  • Army Hospital Interns: Young practitioners in training, they are the future of the military medical corps.
  • Army Physicians: As expert advisers to the command, they oversee the operational and strategic aspects of the army health service, including prevention, diagnosis, care, medical expertise, as well as research and health education.

The medical hierarchy within the army is clearly established, ranging from the rank of lieutenant for interns to the rank of general physician for the heads of services. This structure reflects the authority and responsibilities that increase with advancement in rank.

Recruitment and advancement

The recruitment of interns is primarily among career medical officers. After ranking based on academic performance, they commit to serve for a period proportional to their training. Army physicians are recruited at various levels, from young graduates to experienced professionals who must meet strict requirements to enter and progress in the military hierarchy.

Only physicians who demonstrate commitment and significant experience are eligible for promotion. This system ensures that positions of high responsibility are occupied by competent and seasoned individuals.

Occupational health in the military

The army health service is primarily dedicated to the sanitary support of the forces, with a particular emphasis on preventive medicine. Generalist or specialist physicians work under the supervision of colleagues certified in occupational medicine and ergonomics, contributing to various specialized areas such as aviation medicine, diving medicine, or the management of CBRN risks.

The Val-de-Grâce School plays a key role in the training of military occupational physicians. Furthermore, civilian physicians can join the armed forces as commissioned or reserve officers, with equal treatment and remuneration compared to career military personnel.

In Conclusion:

Military physicians embody an essential component of the operational capacity of the armed forces. Thanks to a structured professional path and opportunities for specialization in occupational health, they are at the forefront of preserving the health and well-being of soldiers, in times of peace as well as during conflict.

Philippe Casanova

Specialist in occupational medicine and forensic medicine.