Fit to Fight? Credit: Sgt Rupert Frere, Crown Copyright
Health and Fitness

What Happens At The Armed Forces Medical?

Thinking about joining the Armed Forces and want to know what happens at the medical?

Fit to Fight? Credit: Sgt Rupert Frere, Crown Copyright

The physically and mentally demanding nature of life in the services means there are minimum physical standards that must be met by individuals to ensure the safety of those who join and those who serve alongside them throughout their career.

There are many conditions that can prevent someone from joining the forces, including diabetes or epilepsy which, although are completely manageable on civvy street, could be life-threatening if they were to be deployed somewhere militarily without access to medication.

Therefore, anyone wishing to join the Armed Forces must first undergo and pass a full medical assessment before they can continue with any form of military training.

Doctor Patient Diagnosis Medical Hospital GP Credit rawpixel.com ID : 380342
All medicals must be conducted with an MoD approved medical professional. Credit: Raw Pixel

Medical/Health Questionnaire

All recruits must complete a health questionnaire that asks questions about pre-existing conditions, medication use and surgery history. It is possible at this stage that you may be considered unfit for service or you may experience delays whilst medical records are checked.

Medical Assessment

All potential recruits must complete the physical medical with a military or MoD approved doctor. The doctor must review and approve your medical history/assessment results before being allowed to progress onto the next stage of Basic Training.

Some jobs in the forces have higher physical standards than others. Credit: MoD Photographer, Crown Copyright
Some jobs in the forces have higher physical standards than others. Credit: MoD Photographer, Crown Copyright

What Is Checked At The Medical?

  • Height, weight and BMI
  •  Lung capacity/peak flow test.
  • Blood pressure/pulse.
  • Urine sample.
  • Eyesight and colour perception.
  • Audiogram/hearing test (in a soundproof booth).
  • A physical examination will check for hernias/lumps/irregularities.
  • Reflexes and joint/muscular movements will also be checked, and recruits will be asked to complete physical movements such as walking on tip toes/heels/press ups and squats.
Potential recruits must meet minimum eyesight requirements. Credit: Cpl Barry Lloyd, Crown Copyright
Potential recruits must meet minimum eyesight requirements. Credit: Cpl Barry Lloyd, Crown Copyright

Top Tips

  • Avoid loud noise up to 48 hours beforehand.
  • Avoid excessive caffeine consumption.
  • Avoid protein drinks.
  • If you ticked ‘yes’ to any of the health questions bring copies of medical paperwork and records of any treatment or rehabilitation that may be relevant.
Certain physiological conditions could be incompatible with weight training. Credit: Cpl Russ Nolan, Crown Copyright
Certain physiological conditions could be incompatible with weight training. Credit: Cpl Russ Nolan, Crown Copyright

Medical Issues/Problems

Any issues that are flagged up at the medical stage need to be dealt with before continuing with any form of military training.

Certain conditions like asthma can preclude entry to, for example, certain trades in the RAF such as flying branches, but others may require a certain time period to have passed without incident or treatment and subject to a review of medical records before an application will be considered.

Another issue that crops up frequently is past dislocations and surgery on broken bones. It could be that your condition has been misdiagnosed in your notes or it has been misunderstood, for example back pain instead of discomfort or a ligament tear has been interpreted as a dislocation.

If an applicant feels that the decision is wrong they can appeal the decision but they would need to gather as much evidence to support their case as possible which could include further scans/x-rays or a specialist's opinion. It is also possible that while the Army may reject an application the RAF or Navy may not.

The medical standards do also change over time so what may be a bar to service one year may be considered the following.