Offshore Life and what to expect as a Medic – Part 1

Better than a real job

Offshore Life and what to expect as a Medic

When people ask me how to go about getting into the Offshore Industry, the first thing I try to explain is what it’s actually like. With the amount of time and money involved in getting trained, it pays to have a good idea of what you are getting into.

This series of articles is going to hopefully give you some insight into the pros and cons of the job, as well as explaining the basics of what you would actually be doing as a medic.

I suppose that to begin with, you should make sure you know what the job entails. Whilst some of the pros sound great (good pay, lots of time off etc) some people find it very difficult to adjust to the lifestyle. Below are some of the downsides:

  • You will spend up to half the year or more on installations. I have been with my wife for ten years and have spent less than half that time in her company.
  • Getting home late from work can mean getting home a couple of days late – not a couple of hours. Helicopter delays due to weather or technical issues can be very frustrating – especially if you have made plans.
  • When you are on board you cannot drink. Ever. Not even at Christmas or New Year.
  • The only shop within 100 miles will be one that sells toiletries, ciggies and sweets.
  • When you are at work, you don’t get days off. Even if you do a four week trip (the normal shift length for Support Vessels) you won’t get a day off.
  • It’s equivalent to working 42 hours a week every week of the year.
  • For the duration of your time offshore you will be doing twelve hour shifts (although most fixed installations give you half a day off at Christmas or New Year).
  • As the installation medic, you the sole provider of medical care for up to one hundred and fifty people. There is always a Doctor available to give you advice over the phone, but some people perceive the responsibility as being too much. Personally, I think you have the same amount, if not more, if you are working in a ward, but it is a subjective thing that only you can decide
  • Your social life can suffer – concerts, parties, birthdays, weddings, Christmases and New Year are frequently missed.
  • Some people find their time off difficult. Sounds daft, but some folk find it difficult to occupy themselves when everyone else is at work all day.

If you have a family, some of these can be exacerbated – especially if you have never worked away from home. But then again, I’ve spoken to a lot of new parents reckon they actually have more quality time with their kids than if they worked on shore.

Also, the course prices and time commitments are considerable. For the Medic’s course and the Survival course you are looking at roughly £2000 to £2500. If you don’t live near the venue, you will have living and accommodation costs on top of that. And that’s not including the cost of the Survival and MIST courses! As for time, the initial Medic’s Course is four weeks in total, with the Survival being three days.

So, I started off by listing all the downsides, the reasons you might want to be aware of for not doing the course. But in part two of this guide, we’re going to talk about why it can be such an amazing and awesome job!