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The History of the Post-Graduate Medical and Nursing Officers (PGMNO) course in the British Army
  1. Jacob Henry Matthews1,
  2. S Makin1,
  3. R J Booker2,
  4. A Holland3,
  5. R K Bhabutta4,
  6. D Vassallo1,5,
  7. J Woodhouse6 and
  8. D Ross1
  1. 1 Army Medical Services, Robertson House, Camberley, UK
  2. 2 Research and Clinical Innovation SO1 Implementation and jHub-Med Chief Operating Officer, HQ Defence Medical Services, London, UK
  3. 3 3 Medical Regiment, Preston, UK
  4. 4 Regional Clinical Director for Central and Wessex, Defence Primary Healthcare, Lichfield, UK
  5. 5 Chairman, Friends of Millbank, Contactable via Regimental Secretary, Fareham, UK
  6. 6 Regional Clinical Director Overseas, Defence Primary Healthcare, DMS Whittington, Lichfield, UK
  1. Correspondence to Maj Jacob Henry Matthews, Royal Army Medical Corps, Army Medical Services, Robertson House, Camberley, UK; jake.matthews91{at}


Military medicine has been evolving for over 5000 years of recorded civilisation and conflict. The Army Medical Services performed poorly during the Crimean War and the British Army introduced a professional training course for medical officers in 1860. The Army Medical School and the predecessor of today’s Post-Graduate Medical and Nursing Officers (PGMNO) course have had to adapt to changes in British foreign policy and military requirements. The Army Medical School instigated a rigorous scientific medical training which led to major advances in the study of tropical diseases and trauma medicine. These advances were quickly included in the training of future cohorts. Although the Army Medical School has now closed, the PGMNO course thrives at its new location at the Defence Medical Academy, Whittington. Modern general duties medical officers (GDMOs) must be able to provide medical care in a range of austere environments, including humanitarian relief and conflict zones. New clinicians complete their basic military training before completing the PGMNO course and the Diploma in the Medical Care of Catastrophes. This programme ensures that GDMOs and military nurse practitioners gain a wide knowledge of the latest military and humanitarian medicine. The current era will require clinicians who are competent generalists, who can perform in small teams in dispersed locations. This article summarises the development of the British Army’s PGMNO course and the evolution of its syllabus as part of the Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Operations special issue of BMJ Military Health.

  • medical history
  • medical education & training
  • occupational & industrial medicine
  • primary care
  • public health

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  • Contributors All authors have been involved with the design, literature review, writing and editing of this paper. Planning: JHM, DV, RKB, DR. Conduct/literature review: JHM, SM, DV, RKB, DR. Reporting, writing and editing: JHM, SM, RJB, AH, DV, RKB, JW, DR. Guarantor: DR.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.