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Regulations for Candidates for the Office of Assistant Surgeon in the Royal Navy


Admiralty 1 March 1853

The Right Honorable (sic) the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty are pleased to direct that the following Regulations, relative to the examination of Candidates for the Appointment of Assistant Surgeon in the Royal Navy, shall in future be adopted:-

That a Candidate for entry into the Royal Navy shall make a written application to that effect, addressed to the Secretary of the Admiralty ; on the receipt of which application he will be furnished with the Regulations, and a Printed Form to be filled up by him, to show if he possesses the required qualifications.

As vacancies occur, the number of Candidates required will be ordered to attend at the Admiralty Office, bringing with them the requisite Certificates, showing they are fully qualified by Age, Professional Ability, &c., when they will be examined by a Board of Medical Officers, to be named by their Lordships.

Such Candidates as shall have been found in all respects competent for the Appointment of Assistant-Surgeon, will be forthwith nominated to one of the Naval Hospitals at Home, to await Appointments to any of Her Majesty's Ships ; or should their services not be immediately required, their names will be duly registered for early Appointments as Vacancies may occur.

That no person be admitted as an Assistant-Surgeon in the Royal Navy, who shall not produce a Certificate from one of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons of England, Edinburgh, or Dublin, or from the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, of his fitness for that Office ; nor, as a Surgeon, unless he shall produce a Diploma, or Certificate, from one of the said Royal Colleges or Faculty, founded on an examination to be passed subsequently to his Appointment as Assistant-Surgeon, as to his fitness for the situation of Surgeon in the Navy ; and in every case the Candidate producing such Certificate, or Diploma, shall also undergo a further examination, touching his qualifications in all the necessary branches and points of Medicine and Surgery for each of the steps in the Naval Medical Service ; and that previously to the admission of Assistant-Surgeons into the Navy, it will be required that they produce proof of having received a preliminary classical education, and that they possess in particular a competent knowledge of Latin ; also

That they are of good moral character, the Certificate of which must be signed by the Clergyman of the Parish, or by a Magistrate of the District.

That they have served an Apprenticeship, or have been engaged for not less than six months in Practical Pharmacy.

That their age must not be less than 20 years nor more than 26 years ; and that they are unmarried.

That they have actually attended an Hospital in London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Manchester, or Bristol, for eighteen months subsequently to the age of 18, in which Hospital the average number of patients is not less than 100.

That they have been engaged in actual dissection of the human body for twelve months ; the Certificate of which from the Teacher must state the number of subjects or parts dissected by the Candidate.

That they have attended Lectures &c. on the following subjects, at established Schools of Eminence, by Physicians or Surgeons of the recognized Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons, in the United Kingdom, for periods not less than hereunder stated ; observing, however, that such Lectures will not be admitted if the Teacher shall Lecture on more than one branch of Science, or if the Lectures on Anatomy, Surgery and Medicine be not attended during three distinct Winter Sessions of six months each.

On producing the above Certificates he will be examined before a Board of Naval Medical Officers, specially summoned by their Lordships, on the following subjects, viz.:-

Anatomy Or General Anatomy, 12 months
and Comparative Anatomy, 6 months
18 months
Surgery Or General Surgery, 12 months
and Military Surgery, 6 months
18 months
Theory of Medicine
Practice of Ditto *
If the Lectures on the Theory and Practice of Medicine be given in conjunction, then the period required is 18 months. 6 months
12 months
Clinical Lectures
(at an Hospital as above)
On the Practice of Medicine
On the Practice of Surgery
6 months
6 months
Chemistry Or Lectures on Chemistry, 3 months
and Practical Chemistry, 3 months
6 months
Materia Medica - 6 months
Midwifery Accompanied by Certificates stating the number of Midwifery cases personally attended. 6 months
Botany - 3 months

In addition to the Tickets for Lectures, Certificates must be produced from the professors &c., by whom the Lectures were given, stating the period (in months) actually attended by the Candidates. The time also of actual attendance at an Hospital or Infirmary must be certified ; and the Tickets as well as Certificates of attendance, age, moral character, &c., must be produced by the Candidate previously to his examination.

Although the above are the only qualifications which are absolutely required in Candidates for the Appointment of Assistant-Surgeon, a favourable consideration will be given to those who have obtained the degree of M.D. from either of the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Dublin, Glasgow, London, or Aberdeen ; or who, by possessing a knowledge of the Diseases of the Eye, or of any branch of science connected with the Profession, such as Medical Jurisprudence, Natural History, and Natural Philosophy &c., appear to be more peculiarly eligible for admission into the Service, observing, however, that lectures on these or any other subjects cannot be admitted as compensating for any deficiency in those required by the Regulations.

By the Rules of the Service, no Assistant-Surgeon can be promoted to the rank of Surgeon until he shall have served three years (one of which must be in a Ship actually employed at sea), and can produce a Diploma from one of the before-mentioned Royal Colleges, or the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons, and it is resolved that not any Diploma or Certificate of examination from either of the aforesaid Royal Colleges shall be admitted towards the qualification for Surgeon, unless the Diploma or Certificate shall be obtained on an examination passed after a period of not less than three years' actual service, observing that no one can be admitted to an examination for Surgeon unless as herein-before-mentioned he can produce a Diploma, together with the most satisfactory Certificates that he has performed on the dead body, under the superintendence of a Professor or Teacher of known eminence, all the capital Operations of Surgery, and is perfectly competent to perform any operation with skill and dexterity, and thoroughly acquainted with the anatomy of the parts involved in such operation ; without which qualification, no one hereafter can be promoted to the higher branches of the Service ; and whenever Assistant-Surgeons already in the Service (whose professional education may not be in accordance with the above) obtain leave to study previously to their passing for Surgeon, they will be required on their examination to produce testimonials of their having availed themselves of the period of leave to complete their Education agreeably to these Regulations generally.

But it is also to be observed, that Candidates admitted into the Naval Medical Service must serve in whatever ship they may be appointed to; and that in the event of their being unable to do so from sea-sickness, their names cannot be continued on the Naval Medical List, nor can they, of course, be allowed Half Pay.

By command of their Lordships,

R. Osborne

* 6 Months' Lectures on Pathology, if given at a University where there may be a Professorship in that branch of Science, will be admitted in lieu of Six Months' Lectures on Practice of Medicine.

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