How do you pass the army medical?

In the army medical, you’ll be asked in detail about your medical history. Here’s what you need to know.


Pre-medical checks

Before you even get to the medical, you’ll be asked a long list of questions about your medical history.

Failing the medical is the second-most common reason that people don’t end up joining the army after they’ve applied.

(The most common reason, by the way, is that they decide the army’s not for them – most applicants to the army change their minds before they sign up, in fact.)

The army keeps a long list of medical problems that might mean you won’t be able to join – see the bottom of this page for the current list.

Some of these medical problems will bar you from joining the army completely; others mean that you might have to wait a year or two before joining; and a few are not as serious and might not stop you from joining straight away, if the army doctor agrees to it.

You’ll be expected to sign a form giving the army access to your medical records.

You’ll also be asked about drug use. If you’ve had an addiction problem then you’ll need to have been clean for three years. Current use of cannabis isn’t a problem, though you’ll be expected to stop before you join up.


The medical

If you get through the pre-medical check, and there are no other problems with your application, then you’ll go to the army’s Assessment Centre for a full medical check, as well as fitness tests.

In the medical, you’ll be tested for:

  • Healthy heart and lungs.
  • Good eyesight and hearing.
  • Strong joints and muscles.
  • Healthy weight.

You’ll also be asked again about your medical history and the doctor will discuss with you any problems you’ve flagged up, or that appear on your medical records.

You’ll need to strip down to your underwear for the medical.

No part of the medical is painful and you’re not injected with anything.

If you’re later found to have lied about your medical history, the army will sack you.


Next…


Medical conditions that might stop or delay your enlistment (as of early 2022)

Most of these medical conditions will completely bar you from joining up. Some may mean you have to wait a year or two. A few are less serious and the doctor who examines you might still allow you to join up.

Abdomen

  • Chronic abdominal diseases like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
  • Donation of a kidney, or kidney disease, within the last two years, or any kidney disease you’ve inherited from your parents.
  • Chronic indigestion or incontinence.
  • Loss of the spleen.
  • Having received an organ donation.

Back

  • Some spinal surgery (including internal fixation or fusion).
  • Spina bifida.
  • History of back pain.

Blood

  • Sickle cell disease, congenital spherocytosis, or thalassaemia.
  • HIV, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C.
  • History of leukaemia or malignant lymphoma, unless free of disease and treatment for at least five years.
  • Clotting conditions such as haemophilia.

Bones and joints

  • Knee pain, or knee cartilage operation within the last year.
  • Restricted joint movement.
  • All fractures within the last year (but not fingers or collarbone).
  • Loss of a limb, thumb, or big toe.
  • Clubfoot (including past surgery).
  • Chronic joint diseases like arthritis and gout.
  • Reiter’s disease within the last five years.

Chest

  • Asthma symptoms or treatment in the last year.
  • Chronic lung diseases.
  • Active tuberculosis.

Ear

  • Current perforation of ear drum.
  • Chronic ear diseases.
  • Eardrum grommets.

Eye

  • Chronic eye diseases.
  • Surgery for a squint within the last six months.
  • Corneal or eye lens problems.
  • Chronic conjunctivitis.
  • Anything that degrades vision to below the army’s standards.

Neurological disorders

  • Epilepsy.
  • Symptomatic cerebral palsy.
  • Multiple sclerosis.
  • Migraines.
  • History of head injury if it affected the brain.

Pregnancy

  • Currently pregnant or had a child in the last 3 months.

Psychiatric

  • Schizophrenia.
  • Current obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
  • Current alcohol or drug dependence.
  • Current eating disorders.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • More than two episodes of depression or anxiety requiring treatment, or any history of significant self-harm or a suicide attempt.
  • Certain personality disorders.
  • Autism (except mild Asperger’s Syndrome, which is assessed on a case-by-case basis).

Skin

  • An active skin disease like severe eczema or widespread psoriasis.

Other

  • Food allergy or intolerance (e.g. gluten, peanuts).
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon / disease / syndrome.
  • Diabetes.
  • Diseases requiring long-term medication or replacement therapy (except under-active thyroid).
  • Covid.

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