Military training - the Sandhurst way


Richard Cumpsty is a fifth year medical student at Southampton University, and recently joined the Army Reserve in January 2016. In this blog he shares his experiences of the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.

I joined the Army Reserve as it combines two of my passions, travel and sport. It was also an exciting new challenge and the variety of military life and medicine greatly appealed to me.

To begin my training as an Army Officer, I recently attended the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst where I completed the two-week phase 1 basic training.

The Sandhurst experience

As we are professionally qualified officers (PQO), we go on a shorter course than the standard commissioning course. However, as we will wear the rank of an officer, it is imperative that we understand the process of commissioning. Also, soldiers recognise that although the PQO course is relatively brief, it is still a tough course and can be demanding.

I was nervous before attending the course and without any prior military experience, I feared the unknown. However, the transition to military life was surprisingly painless and I quickly became accustomed to the 5:30 am starts.

Days began with a rendition of God Save the Queen, which was initially bizarre, but within a couple of days this seemed like a perfectly ordinary start to the day. Room inspections were after breakfast, and organising your room and ironing my bed was strangely satisfying! Drill was a challenge to our group, and it took a few days to learn how to march in time and achieve some basic movements. However, with practise, it was enjoyable to see our platoon get to grips with it (after some encouragement from our colour sergeant!!).

My highlights

The highlight of my two weeks was definitely meeting a wide variety of people. It was not just medics in our platoon, in fact it was hugely diverse: there were film directors, social media experts, forensic psychologists and IT specialists. It all led to a melting pot of camaraderie, and we soon gelled into a real team. This meant that together, we overcame any challenges that were sent our way. It sounds cheesy, but it really was true!

Another highlight was definitely our colour sergeant. He was a really nice bloke that clearly had a massive amount of military experience. It was very humbling to just spend the two weeks in his presence, and glean any advice that he could give.

In the future

In summary, Sandhurst could at times be tough, but the team spirit and camaraderie that we established enabled us to quickly overcome anything that was thrown our way. I could not recommend it enough!

Having completed phase 1 I hope to begin phase 2 within the coming months. I’m also looking forward to qualifying next year and aspire to be a consultant cardiologist. I wish to have a long career within the military and I hope I get the opportunity to go on tour to help make a significant difference. The idea of helping both our brave servicemen and women, as well as a local population is particularly exciting. 

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