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What is Medical Officer and How to Become a Medical Officer

Last updated:
3rd Sep, 2023
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What is Medical Officer and How to Become a Medical Officer

In healthcare, effective leadership is critical to meet the stringent needs and deadlines of the field as they arise. To ensure the smooth functioning of the healthcare system, there is a special cadre of skilled professionals who act as advisors and administrators — the medical officers.

If you are passionate about pursuing a career in healthcare, a medical officer might be the right role for you. This blog discusses everything you need to know about being a medical officer, the different types of officers, their roles, responsibilities, and skills required to become one. 

What Is Medical Officer?

A medical officer is equal to a senior physician entrusted with executing clinical operations and ensuring the smooth management of the healthcare facility. They juggle several tasks and play multiple roles. 

A medical officer has to advise the communities on different health issues and disease control mechanisms. They must also identify any inconsistencies that might occur during patient care. They also oversee research programmes and supervise clinical traits. 

Duties of a Medical Officer 

A medical officer is entrusted with numerous responsibilities and has to assume various roles as and when required. Some roles include researchers, duty medical officers, and camp doctors. 

Some of the responsibilities of a medical officer are:

  • Responsible for arranging emergency nursing and medical services. 

A medical officer formulates plans to improve health and offer better healthcare facilities to patients. They oversee complex diagnoses, verify them, and curate treatment plans accordingly. 

  • Keeps track of all clinical data and analyses reports and records to suggest suitable disease treatments. This increases the efficiency of diagnosis and improves the overall healthcare structure. 

Medical officers also ensure accuracy in the documentation of medical records. This helps organise all the important clinical data, further facilitating proper patient care. 

  • Remain updated on the latest advancements in the medical field by engaging in different medical research programmes. 
  • Responsible for hiring officials who will, in turn, hire, mentor, and supervise other medical staff. Therefore, they should possess the skill to choose the right people because healthcare negligence can prove fatal. 
  • Medical officers should also promptly recommend changes in the existing plan in case of any medical emergency. They should be able to address any gaps in the ongoing treatment plan and analyse it properly to suggest the most effective changes.
  • Also responsible for liaisoning with the state’s and central governments’ healthcare and safety policies. It is a highly responsible role, faltering, which can lead to the breakdown of the entire healthcare system. 

Medical Officer Jobs

Some job roles and areas of specialisation medical officers can opt for include:

  • A medical officer can opt for a career in industries like personal healthcare, disease prevention, nutrition, maternity and child care, dental health care, and so on.
  • Medical officers enjoy tremendous advantages in terms of specialisation. Some popular areas where medical officers can specialise are anaesthesiology, neurology, pathology, surgery, paediatrics, and many more. 

Essential Skills Required To Be a Medical Officer 

In the medical profession, having a few personality traits is as crucial as having theoretical knowledge or hands-on practice. 

Kindness and empathy are two of the most important traits any medical personnel should possess. Apart from these, a medical officer should also have good problem-solving abilities. Medical professionals have to deal with a wide variety of patients and patient’s families with varying sensibilities, which requires a lot of patience. 

If you are willing to establish a fulfilling career as a medical officer, you need to possess the following skills:

  • A medical officer should have good communication skills: Being a medical officer means interacting with stakeholders, government officials, patients, and staff. You need to build strong communication skills when communicating with people from different walks of life. Communication is also an essential aspect of diagnosis. 
  • They should possess excellent leadership skills: A medical officer should have great leadership abilities. They have to lead an entire team of healthcare professionals, motivate others, maintain healthy relationships with everyone, and ensure that patients receive proper medical treatment and professional care.
  • A medical officer should have an eye for detail: While dealing with patients, medical officers have to understand their medical histories, including their drug history and how their bodies reacted to each one of the components. Even the slightest negligence in this regard can prove fatal. 
  • They should execute their work confidently: A medical officer needs to ooze confidence for the patients to trust them and the subordinates to respect and obey their orders. 

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How To Become a Medical Officer

Alongside possessing the abovementioned traits and skills, there are some fundamental prerequisites to becoming a medical officer

Working in medicine and healthcare requires a lot of skill and expertise. Becoming a medical officer requires an MBBS degree and internship experience. The internship helps you gain hands-on experience, thereby strengthening your knowledge base and enhancing your skill in handling medical cases in a professional setting. 

Fulfilling the given eligibility criteria allows an individual to secure a job in various medical institutions, government and private hospitals, nursing homes, and pharmaceutical companies. 

Listed below are the steps enumerating how to become a medical officer

Step 1: An individual first has to complete 10+2. To pursue a career in the medical field, choosing science subjects like Physics, Chemistry, and Biology is imperative. 

Step 2: After you have completed your school education, you need to opt for an undergraduate degree. Choose any course like MBBS, BAMS, or BHMS. This requires appearing for NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) conducted by NTA and other medical college-specific entrance exams like AIIMS, JIPMER, etc.

Step 3: After completing their MBBS or other relevant degrees, candidates must complete one year of internship at an NMC-recognised hospital. This is to be followed by successfully passing an examination conducted by the National Medical Commission of India (NMC), culminating in receiving their medical license. 

Step 4: Experience will instil the proper knowledge and hands-on experience to help excel in your field. Also, a two-year experience is highly preferred when seeking employment as a medical officer

Can a Medical Officer be Called a Doctor?

To answer in simple terms, no. Both are not the same. 

Doctors are experienced professionals who perform tasks like prescribing medicines to patients, conducting surgeries, performing diagnostic tests, and so on. On the other hand, medical officers are entrusted with the task of overseeing clinical operations and working as a liaison between the different staff in the healthcare sector and the doctors working there. They help streamline the various processes in the medical field. 

Types of Medical Officers

There are numerous career paths a medical officer can venture into. Based on the kind of task they perform, medical officers can be classified into the following categories:

Duty Medical Officer

Duty medical officers extend 24×7 support to the staff and patients in a hospital. They cater to their requirements and ensure no lapse occurs during the patient’s treatment. Their work is supervisory in nature, and they take care of the medical wards while catering to the requirements of the staff and patients in the hospital. 

Camp Doctor

Medical camps offer medical and healthcare facilities to people belonging to under-developed areas, lacking proper medical infrastructure and healthcare facilities.

Some medical officers may also work as camp doctors, licensed healthcare professionals entrusted with maintaining and restoring human health using medicine. Camp doctors examine the condition of the patients, go through their previous medical records, diagnose their condition, and treat them accordingly. They must also counsel the patients and instil awareness about their well-being. 

Defence Doctors

As the name suggests, this medical officer’s category is entrusted with working as a doctor in the Army, Navy, Air Force or other paramilitary forces. This is one of the most honourable opportunities for medical graduates. Any individual working as a doctor in the defence enjoys an adventurous life full of dignity, camaraderie, and high self-esteem. 


As mentioned earlier, remaining engaged in medical research programmes allows medical officers to acquire knowledge about the latest advancements in the field of medicine. Research forms the basis of finding cures for diseases that do not yet have treatment or cure. It also includes conducting trials to identify new clinical traits or understand the effect of a medicine on a particular disease. 

A medical officer has to choose the participants for trial, set the schedules, document the results obtained through the research, and analyse them for the future.

Benefits of Becoming a Medical Officer

The post of a medical officer is one of the most lucrative and prestigious positions one can seek. 

Two factors that propel individuals to take up a career as a medical officer are high demand and good job security. Of all other sectors, the medical and healthcare sector provides an individual with countless opportunities. Therefore, pursuing a career in this sector is rewarding.

Apart from these, a career in the medical field offers great job satisfaction, lucrative salary packages, and the opportunity to travel. 

What Skills Should One Have to Become a Senior Medical Officer? 

The skills needed to secure the position of a senior medical officer are the same as those mentioned above. However, to assume a senior post, ensuring that you have the right experience is important.

Salary of a Medical Officer

The salary of a medical officer depends on the level of experience, the organisation they are employed in and the specific department they oversee. Entry-level medical officers are paid around INR 0.8 lakhs annually, which can rise to INR 12 lakhs for senior and experienced professionals. 


Becoming a medical officer primarily entails liaising between authority and staff. They are responsible for the smooth functioning of clinical operations and the overall management of the entire hospital. They must simultaneously amalgamate their healthcare knowledge with the latest medical field trends. 

With benefits like great pay, exciting job opportunities, the scope to work closely with people, and other perks, it requires an innate ability to handle strenuous duties daily and work well under pressure. 




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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1What is the difference between a doctor and a medical officer?

Although a doctor and a medical officer are important professionals in the medical field, they are not the same. While a doctor is responsible for providing treatment, a medical officer oversees all the tasks and ensures the smooth functioning of the healthcare facilities.

2What are the qualifications and requirements to become a medical officer?

A medical officer must possess some skills such as patience, confidence, empathy, kindness, good communication ability, etc. An aspiring medical officer should possess an undergraduate MBBS, BAMS, or BHMS degree and then acquire a licence. Pursuing a postgraduate degree may be an added advantage.

3Are there any specific regulations or guidelines that medical officers and medical secretaries must adhere to?

Apart from the behavioural traits and educational qualifications, there are multiple specifications, a set code of conduct and other behavioural parameters that medical officers and secretaries must adhere to.

4Is there a difference between a medical secretary and a medical administrative assistant?

The duties of a medical secretary and a medical administrative assistant are the same. They are professionals entrusted with clerical and administrative tasks like handling patient information, payments, insurance claims, appointments, etc.

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