Professionally Qualified Officers
The Professionally Qualified Officer (PQO) course at Sandhurst is for new British Army Officers who hold professional qualifications, such as doctors, vets, lawyers, dentists, nurses, physiotherapists and chaplains. The course is designed to familiarise PQOs with military life and to prepare them for operational deployment.
The course takes ten weeks to complete and is based directly on the Regular Commissioning Course. The focus is on officership, command and leadership, and the syllabus includes field training, physical training, weapons training and, of course, drill. When not out in the field PQOs will find themselves in the classroom, learning, for example, about global security, aspects of leadership psychology and the history of warfare.
Some of the most exciting parts of the course are the tactical exercises, a week on the ranges firing the Army's latest weapons systems, learning how to use the latest digital communication equipment and the physical challenge of core survival skills. The Final Exercise centres around operating in a contemporary environment and contains elements of peace support operations, war fighting, negotiation and media operations.
The final hurdle is the preparation for the Passing Out Parade. The night before, a formal dinner is held in the magnificent surroundings of the Indian Army Memorial Room in Old College, where everyone wears mess kit for the first time. The next day the PQOs march out to pay their last visit to the parade square with the support of a military band and the parade commander on horseback. Afterwards, family and friends are invited into Old College to join in the celebrations at the parade lunch.