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Could a civilian medical student/ doctor be conscripted?


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#1 Wardog

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 10:51 PM

Simple question, I hope!- could a civilian medical student or fully trained doctor be conscripted, or were military doctors all volunteers? Regards, Paul.

#2 centurion

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 11:03 PM

There was a shortage of military doctors, one of the first things Wilson did on the USA entering the war was to despatch American doctors with no military experience whatsoever to France to support the British. Given this it would be stupid for Britain to conscript medical students before they qualified as doctors. On the other hand it would make sense to conscript qualified doctors. However there is no reason in war to automatically assume that sense prevails over stupidity.

#3 seaJane

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 11:50 PM

Many newly-qualified doctors were called up to provide medical officers aboard ship. I can't track the reference I've been trying to think of for this, but if you look at Tom Kirk's chapter in Max Arthur's Last Post or link here: http://1914-1918.inv...showtopic=22905 that will give an example.

#4 Mzungu

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 05:55 AM

Many served as Surgeon Probationers with RNR serving on small vessels as the only medic on board
Simon

#5 ARABIS

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 09:48 AM

Surgeon Probationers were RNVR.
Apparently the army gave the idea to the navy.
"The Royal Army Medical Corps had begun before 1914 to attract medical students from the different hospitals and universities into it's ranks. These student dressers were given the title of Probationer Lieutenant and the decision to take them into the RAMC was communicated to the Admiralty in May, 1913".
The Surgeon Probationers, by R.S. Allison.

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#6 seaJane

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 11:17 AM

David, the Allison reference was the one I was trying to think of but couldn't remember - thanks for putting my mind at rest!

(I knew it was Allison but couldn't find the title anywhere... )



#7 Wardog

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 06:12 PM

Thanks for the interest and replies. Can I take it then as far as is known medcal students would not have been conscripted but doctors might have been after March 1916? Regards, Paul.

#8 Sue Light

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 07:01 PM

It was an enormously complex area. Many doctors volunteered early in the war, but during the first half of 1915 when the War Office appealed for a further 2,000 medical officers, the profession saw it as a real problem - in theory few doctors could be easily released from their civil duties. To regulate the admission of MOs to the military forces, and to protect the civil population, the profession was allowed to be self-regulating, and a 'Central Medical War Committee' was formed, ' to organize the medical profession in such a way as to enable the Government to use every medical practictioner fit to serve the country in such a manner as to turn his qualification to the best possible use.'

In April 1916 the Central Medical Committees took on the responsibility of dealing with claims for exemption and set up special tribunals. In December 1916 the committees mobilized the entire medical profession 'for such service as each member of it was competent to give,' but in April 1917 the War Office sent calling-up notices to all doctors in the country under the age of 41without consulting the professional committees first. By January 1917, more than half the medical profession had been called up for military service - 12,363 of them. This left the civil population of the UK in a very poor position with regard to medical care. The UKs medical services, both civil and military, were just about teetering on the brink of collapse by the spring of 1917 when they were relieved by America's entry into the war.

The detail of this whole period is very well covered in Volume one of the Official History, Medical Services (from where the above brief details are taken).

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#9 Wardog

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 09:26 PM

Thank you very much Sue for that information and source. Regards, Paul.