Medical officer

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A medical officer is an officer who serves in the medical services of the armed forces .


Medical officers and other medical personnel from various nations, including a (female) German medical officer in air force uniform

A medical officer is in the broadest sense an officer who serves in the medical services of the armed forces . In this broad sense, this also includes officers who are not used as medical specialists , but also officers who, for example, drive or operate vehicles of the medical service or their facilities, protect medical service facilities as part of self- protection or are employed in logistics and personnel planning. A somewhat narrower definition only includes officers who are used as medical specialists. This also includes, for example, officers who do not belong to the medical profession , but who have often learned a medical profession and are active in curative care , for example in nursing , rehabilitation or psychological care for wounded or traumatized soldiers .

Usually, however, only those officers be counted among the medical officers, a license to practice as a doctor , dentist or veterinarian have. Officers with a license to practice medicine are also counted among the medical officers (so-called military pharmacists ). Since it is often a formal legal status in the sense of a soldier's career regulation, this also includes doctors or pharmacists who are only remotely active in their specialist area, but instead are primarily concerned with troop leadership or logistics planning, for example.

Uniform and status

Medical officers usually wear the regular uniform of a combatant and, like other officers, are often superiors of other soldiers and are fully integrated into the hierarchy of the armed forces. In some armed forces, such as the Bundeswehr , the rank designations of the licensed doctors and pharmacists differ from those of other officers. In some armed forces, the “regular” ranks are often supplemented by an addition, such as B. (MC) for medical corps ( English for "medical corps "), added. Although medical officers are “regular” soldiers in this regard, medical officers are considered non-combatants if they work as a doctor or pharmacist in one of the medical services facilities . They are then marked by special protection symbols, are under the special protection of the Geneva Conventions and are only armed for self-protection or the protection of their patients and medical facilities .

Federal Republic of Germany


A medical officer of the Bundeswehr is someone who has a rank that is reserved for captains , staff officers and generals in accordance with the order of the Federal President on the rank designations and uniforms of soldiers and central service regulation 14/5 and, in accordance with the soldiers' career regulation in conjunction with central service regulation 20/7, one of the Careers for officers of the medical service .

According to Central Service Regulations 14/5 and Soldiers' Careers Ordinance , medical officers hold special ranks, which are defined in the order of the Federal President on the rank designations and the uniform of the soldiers . According to ZDv 14/5, these ranks can be divided into the rank groups generals , staff officers and captains . These ranks are also referred to as "medical officer ranks" or "medical ranks". In detail, these are the ranks listed in the following table.

First of all, the ranks for army and air force uniform bearers are named, and finally the rank designations for naval uniform bearers . First, the rank designations for human medicine are listed (always correspond to those for dentists ), then those for pharmacists and finally those for veterinarians , if applicable . If the rank designations are identical in all uniform bearer areas, a new list for naval uniform bearers is dispensed with.

Rank group Ranks
I generals
  1. General Oberstabsarzt H&L , Admiraloberstabsarzt M
  2. General Staff Doctor H&L , Admiral Staff Doctor M
  3. General Doctor H&L , General Pharmacist † H&L , Admiral Doctor M
II staff officers
  1. Oberstarzt H&L , Oberstapotheker H&L , Oberstveterinär H , Fleet doctor M , Fleet pharmacist M
  2. Oberfeldarzt H&L , Oberfeldapotheker H&L , Oberfeldveterinär H , Flotilla doctor M , Flotilla pharmacist M
  3. Chief Medical Officer , Chief Pharmacist , Chief Veterinarian H
III captains
  1. Staff physician , staff pharmacist , rod veterinary H

H only wearers of army uniforms
H&L only wearers of army or air force uniforms
M only wearers of naval uniforms
No soldiers are currently appointed to the rank of pharmacist general until further notice, because the budget no longer provides for new promotions .

Note: If a rank is not indexed with a superscript "H", "H&L" or "M" , then the rank can be found in all areas of uniform wear. All ranks listed above are exclusively headed by medical officers. Designation “-arzt” for human including dentists, “-apotheker” for pharmacists, “-veterinär” for veterinarians .

Authority to command and positions

A female senior staff doctor (left)

Medical officers are on an equal footing with other officers with regard to their superior function and can, regardless of their rank, on the basis of § 4 ("Superiors relationship on the basis of the rank") of the Superiors Ordinance within the limits set there, soldiers of the rank groups of the teams , the NCOs with and without porterage and the lieutenant Give orders.

Medical officers are mainly deployed in facilities and associations of the medical service of the Bundeswehr . Medical officers are mainly used in the medical treatment of patients. For this purpose, they serve in the Bundeswehr hospitals, specialist medical centers, or sometimes directly in the troop as a troop doctor , ship doctor or flight doctor as doctors. Pharmacists are responsible for the replenishment of the medical supplies and technical questions of food monitoring and (hospital) hygiene in the Bundeswehr pharmacies or in a supply and repair center for sanitary materials . Veterinarians deal with the treatment and questions of animal husbandry and animal breeding and often serve in this function in the service dog clinic or in the pack animal center or where laboratory animals are kept. In addition to the curative activity , medical officers are employed in the institutes of the medical service and other departments but also in military medical research and analysis . Of particular interest are studies of epidemics and specific clinical pictures in the countries of deployment , the effects of ABC and conventional weapons, toxicology and related research subjects in pharmacology . In food and drug monitoring , in animal and environmental and health protection , as well as animal disease control , veterinarians and pharmacists in particular also perform public law tasks in the Bundeswehr. Advisory support senior medical officers in the army as a division or brigade doctor commanders in medical issues. Higher-ranking medical officers are employed in the above-mentioned institutions or in staff departments of other offices , command authorities and in the ministry as heads of units , departments and laboratories, senior and chief physicians . Medical officers, like troop officers, are also used in more "classic" commanding functions as unit commanders when they serve as company commander of a medical company or commander of a hospital or medical regiment or a supply and repair center. In these positions , questions of logistics , self-security and troop leadership are in the foreground. According to the decree of December 16, 1960, medical officers of the Bundeswehr may also practice privately in secondary employment , provided that this does not endanger the performance of official duties . A total of 3,150 medical officers serve in the Bundeswehr (as of December 2007), 2,400 of them as doctors, 430 as dentists, 240 as pharmacists and 80 as veterinarians .

Due to the described and similar positions, the vast majority of medical officers can issue orders to all officially or professionally subordinate soldiers in the cases listed in the Supervisor Ordinance. In their specialty, in particular, medical officers are almost always superiors of other soldiers. Medical officers, as unit leaders, are disciplinary superiors of the soldiers subordinate to them in accordance with the military disciplinary code .

Appointment and remuneration

The decisive legal basis for the appointment as a medical officer is covered by the Soldiers' Career Ordinance (SLV) and, in addition, the Central Service Regulations (ZDv) 20/7. Temporary soldiers , professional soldiers and assigned reservists can be appointed as medical officers . Prerequisite is the membership of one of the runways for medical officers and the approval as a doctor , dentist , veterinarian or pharmacist . Pharmacists also need a qualification as a state-certified food chemist . The rank of medical officer, medical officer or veterinary officer can be achieved at the earliest three years after starting one of the medical service officer's careers . Medical officer candidates usually finish their studies at a civil university with the rank of lieutenant ( at sea ) and are promoted to medical officers with a license to practice medicine. Employment with the rank of medical officer, staff pharmacist or staff veterinarian or one of the higher ranks is also possible with a qualification corresponding to the assignment .

Medical officers are paid A 13 to B 9 according to the federal salary regulations (BBesO) , depending on their rank and position . Medical officers receive a salary which roughly corresponds to the salary for the other (equivalent) officers. It is noticeable, however, that the three lowest-ranking medical officer ranks (up to senior medical officer and corresponding ranks) usually have a higher pay than other officer ranks of the same rank .


The training to become a medical officer takes place in the sense of the Soldiers' Career Ordinance as a medical officer candidate . Initially, officer candidates of most careers complete basic training and further training phases, sometimes in the form of courses, at various training institutions. For medical officers, however, the academic training that takes place at a civil university is also in the foreground . The training to become a medical officer ends with graduation. In most cases, officers ' courses are attended at one of the officers' schools before their studies (sometimes also afterwards) in order to be able to fulfill the role of military superior . Before being appointed lieutenant, an officer examination must be passed at an officers' school. During their studies, medical officers usually only have contact with the "regular" troops during military internships , clinical traineeships or practical study phases. After the license to practice medicine, there is often a (military) advanced training (post-university modular training (PumA), consisting among other things of operational, leadership and language training) in order to "reintegrate" the young medical officers into the troops.

When they are employed as officers, further courses are regularly added to provide officers with the basic knowledge they need to fill a new position at a higher hierarchical level or to adapt to changing technical, social, mission-specific, medical, etc. framework conditions. For doctors, training in emergency medicine is the first priority. For medical officers, further training to become a specialist , specialist veterinarian , specialist dentist or specialist pharmacist is made possible. The staff officer course at the command academy of the Bundeswehr is not necessary for promotion to staff officer . However, particularly efficient medical officers complete this course and / or the general / admiral staff course there , which makes a later use in the top positions of the medical force more likely.

Rank badge

HD H 43b Medical Officer San HM L.svg

Medical officer (doctor)
LD B 51c Chief Medical Officer San ZM L.svg
rod doctor
HD H 52e Oberfeldveterinär San TM L.svg
field of veterinary
MDS 53d Fleet Pharmacist San PH L.svg
Rank badges for army , air force and naval uniform wearers

The rank badges for medical officers are essentially the same as for officers . Career badges in the form of a (modified) Aesculapian staff are used to distinguish between the medical officers . In the career badge for doctors, the snake winds in a double twist , for dentists in a single twist around the staff. In the case of veterinarians and pharmacists, the snake twists around a (imaginary or not shown rod); at pharmacists, a pharmacist bowl is also shown below. Medical officer candidates already wear one of these career badges according to their subject.


Armed Forces of the German Empire

Medical ranks 1873–1934 Medical ranks 1934–1945
General Oberstabsarzt (date of introduction unclear)
still 1919: GStA d. At the. d. Range as GdI as head of field medical services
Chief Medical Officer
General Staff Doctor (since 1910/11 in Prussia in the rank of lieutenant general, in other German states major general) General Staff Doctor
General staff physician / senior general physician (from approx. 1910/11) / general physician 1st class (temporarily senior half of general physicians;
in Prussia previously corps physician , retained as post designation)
General doctor
Staff officers
General physician 2nd class (lower seniority half of general physicians) Chief physician
Senior Physician General ( division physician until 1896/97 ) Senior Field Physician
Chief Medical Officer (in two classes until 1896/97) Chief Medical Officer
Captains and lieutenants
Medical officer (until 1896 in two classes, formerly regimental doctor ) Medical officer
Senior physician (until 1896 assistant physician 1st class) Senior physician
Assistant doctor (until 1896/97 assistant doctor, 2nd class) Assistant doctor
Field medical officer (since 1916. With full license to practice medicine , corresponded to the sergeant-major ) -
Junior doctor (with full license to practice medicine, equivalent to the ensign ) Unterarzt (equivalent to the senior ensign )
Field doctor (since 1914. With physics, corresponded to the officer's deputy ) Feldunterarzt (since 1940. With Physikum, corresponded to the Oberfähnrich)

Confusing the Nachrangstellung appears the General upper physician (designation in 1934 abolished) to the General doctor. In addition, this should not be confused with the senior general physician rank introduced around 1910/11.

Armed Forces of Austria-Hungary

Doctor General Joseph Ritter von Kerzl in uniform, 1912

The Austro-Hungarian armed forces also knew the position of a medical officer. For example, Joseph Ritter von Kerzl (1841-1919), the long-time personal physician of Emperor Franz Joseph I , held the rank of Chief Staff Officer . The Josephinum (Vienna) was an important training facility for the medical officers of the Austro-Hungarian armed forces .

See also


  • Reinhard Platzek: Deadly violence and life-saving healing. Considerations for the doctor's activity in the service of the military. In: Specialized prose research - Crossing borders. Volume 8/9, 2012/2013, pp. 455-466.


  1. a b ZDv 20/7 on the basis of Section 44 of the Soldiers ' Careers Ordinance ( Ordinance on the Careers of Soldiers (Soldiers' Careers Ordinance - SLV) . March 19, 2002, Section 44 ( online [accessed on March 25, 2014] Neugefasst by Bek August 19, 2011 I 1813. Last amended by Art. 2 Paragraph 5 G of April 8, 2013 I 730). )
  2. a b c d e f g Note: The Bundeswehr describes all soldiers who wear the uniform of the respective armed forces as army or air force or naval uniform wearers. The term also includes soldiers outside the three armed forces, for example in the armed forces base , cf. Training as reserve officer candidate in military service. Federal Office for Personnel Management of the Bundeswehr (BAPersBw) - The President., March 13, 2014, accessed on March 26, 2014 .
  3. Due to the long study, the appointment of medical officer candidates to medical officers takes place much later in practice.
  4. So you are already officers . At the same time, they remain medical officer candidates until they receive their license to practice medicine and are appointed medical officer .
  5. The rank of first lieutenant ( at sea ) is usually "skipped".
  6. ↑ The prerequisite is at least a license to practice medicine (for pharmacists also the state examination to become a food chemist), an obligation for at least one year and a successful aptitude test . For higher ranks, for example, several years of professional experience and / or approval as a specialist veterinarian , specialist , specialist pharmacist or work as an official veterinarian, etc. is necessary.
  7. ↑ Rank badges for epaulettes of the uniforms of the army and air force uniform wearers (light gray = army uniform wearer; blue = air force uniform wearer) and epaulets of a naval uniform wearer . The dark blue pad shown for army uniforms indicates a soldier in the medical service . In addition to the ones shown here on the shoulder flap of the service suit , there are a number of other types of rank insignia, which are described in more detail in the article → "Rank insignia of the Bundeswehr" .

Web links

Wiktionary: Medical officer  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b cf. Art. 1, The Federal President (Ed.): Order of the Federal President on the rank designations and the uniform of the soldiers . BPresUnifAnO. July 14, 1978 ( online [PDF; 44 kB ] Order of the Federal President on the rank designations and uniforms of soldiers from July 14, 1978 ( Federal Law Gazette I p. 1067 ), which was last amended by Article 1 of the order of May 31, 1996 ( Federal Law Gazette I p. 746 ) ).
  2. a b c d e The Federal Minister of Defense (ed.): ZDv 14/5. Soldiers Act . DSK AV110100174, change status July 17, 2008. Bonn August 21, 1978, rank designations in the Bundeswehr, p. B 185 (Not to be confused with the Law on the Legal Status of Soldiers (Soldiers Law) ).
  3. a b c d e Ordinance on the Careers of Soldiers (Soldiers' Career Ordinance - SLV) . March 19, 2002 ( online [accessed on March 25, 2014] revised by notice of August 19, 2011 I 1813. Last amended by Art. 2 Par. 5 G of April 8, 2013 I 730).
  4. a b Note also: Appendix (to § 3). Allocation of the career paths of the soldiers to the career groups of the men and women, the NCOs and the officers
  5. a b The Federal Minister of Defense ; Personnel, Social and Central Affairs Department (Ed.): ZDv 20/7. Provisions for the transport and for the recruitment, acceptance and admission of soldiers . Bonn March 27, 2002, Art. 635 ( PDF ( memento of October 26, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) [accessed on March 26, 2014] DSK AP210100187, reprint January 2008).
  6. a b The Federal Minister of Defense (ed.): ZDv 14/5. Soldiers Act . DSK AV110100174, amendment status July 17, 2008. Bonn August 21, 1978, The Superiors Ordinance, p. A 12 1 (Not to be confused with the Ordinance on the Regulation of Military Superiors (Superiors Ordinance - VorgV) ).
  7. Federal Minister of Defense (Ed.): Ordinance on the regulation of the military superior relationship (Superior Ordinance - VorgV) . June 4, 1956, § 4 ( online [accessed on March 25, 2014] Last amended by Art. 1 No. 2 V of October 7, 1981 I 1129).
  8. Vogel von Strauss . In: Der Spiegel . No. 49 , 1969, p. 78 ( Online - Dec. 1, 1969 ).
  9. Protecting, maintaining and restoring health , Dental Communication 97, No. 24, December 16, 2007, pages 42–47.
  10. Federal Minister of Defense (Ed.): Ordinance on the regulation of the military superior relationship (Superior Ordinance - VorgV) . June 4, 1956 ( online [accessed on March 25, 2014] last amended by Art. 1 No. 2 V of October 7, 1981 I 1129).
  11. ^ Military disciplinary code (WDO). In: Laws on the Internet . Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection , August 16, 2001, accessed on November 5, 2014 (from August 16, 2001 ( Federal Law Gazette I p. 2093 ), last amended by Article 7 of the Act of August 28, 2013 ( Federal Law Gazette I p . 3386 ) has been changed).
  12. a b Appendix I (to § 20, paragraph 2, sentence 1) Bundesbesoldungsgesetz orders of A and B . ( Online [accessed on March 25, 2014] Federal salary regulations (BBesO) only apply to professional and temporary soldiers and are an annex to the Federal Salary Act (BBesG)).
  13. a b Hartmut Bagger , Command Staff of the Armed Forces I 3, Federal Ministry of Defense (Ed.): ZDv 37/10. Suit regulations for soldiers in the Bundeswehr . July 1996. Reprint from October 2008. Bonn July 16, 2008, 4 labels, p. 539 ( digitized version ( memento from September 19, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) [PDF; 3.5 MB ] Reprint October 2008 replaces first edition from July 1996).
  14. Der Bundespräsident (Ed.): Order of the Federal President on the rank designations and the uniform of the soldiers . BPresUnifAnO. July 14, 1978 ( online [PDF; 44 kB ] Order of the Federal President on the rank designations and uniforms of soldiers from July 14, 1978 ( Federal Law Gazette I p. 1067 ), which was last amended by Article 1 of the order of May 31, 1996 ( Federal Law Gazette I p. 746 ) ).
  15. The date of introduction of the rank of General Oberstabsarzt is unclear. In Germany it was possibly only introduced in the 1920s (see CV of Dr. Martin Merkel), in Austria (-Hungary) probably during the First World War, then according to the field marshal lieutenant (lieutenant general) (see CV Alois Pick ).
  16. General Staff Doctor of the Army with the rank of General of the Infantry, in German Officer Association (Ed.): Honor rank list of the former German Army, Mittler & Sohn, Berlin 1926, p. 8
  17. General Staff Doctor . In: Brockhaus' Kleines Konversations-Lexikon . 5th edition. Volume 1, F. A. Brockhaus, Leipzig 1911, p.  661 .
  18. see CVs of Karl v. Wegelin (Württemberg), Georg Wilke (Saxony), Berthold von Kern (Prussia), a. a. in the other . The basic and final problems of knowledge , publisher: Julius Springer, 1938; as well as curriculum vitae
  19. see curriculum vitae of Berthold von Kern (Prussia), in ders. The basic and final problems of knowledge , publisher: Julius Springer, 1938; as well as curriculum vitae
  20. Hedwig Abraham: Graves in the Hietzinger Friedhof: Dr. Josef Kerzl. (Accessed September 9, 2012).