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The History of the Post-Graduate Medical and Nursing Officers (PGMNO) course in the British Army


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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