Hi there. I'm new to this forum and delighted to find a subject I can actually relate to.
I can see how easily a thread can go astray here so I'll be as brief as I can and provide the appropriate link so that you can investigate further in your own time.
Today's Army medical assistant has so many areas of specialisation that further clarification is necessary. The (Regular) Army Med Assist (ECN031) course is a hospital/med facility based course that is equivalent to an Enrolled Nurse. The Army Reserve course is not. This is mostly due to time constraints in that the Reservists do not undertake the same amount of training as their regular counterparts. As a result, the course content is not identical and this has ramifications when attempting to register with the nursing board.
In my experience, I find it nowhere near the standard of what Australian term a paramedic. Having been in both reserve and regular forces, I have worked alongside US EMTs and ambos from Australian ambulance services and I would liken the med assistant to an ambulance attendant moreso than a paramedic. I can certainly vouch for this both on a curricular and practical level. Looking at the responses here I'd say Blackbird sums it up pretty well.
The only exception would be what we call the Patrol Medic. This training is conducted in special forces units or is part of a training course pertinent to its use: for example the RFSU Patrol Course or Combat First Aid. This training covers aspects of emergency medicine at a technical level and this is available to experienced people (usually males) attached to special forces or regional surveillance units. Doctors are not always available and in extreme environments where a doctor's presence would be ideal, the well trained patrol medic serves as a worthy but temporary replacement.
The Australian Defence Force does utilise agency staff in various capacities but under strict conditions. You would have to approach the agency who has this year's tender to get further details on that. Overall, agency staff are used because it's more economically viable for the ADF to pay for agency staff than it is their own personnel but, again, this isn't a common practice. On the whole, in Australia and its territories you will find military staff in military installations. I am certainly not aware of any phasing out of military nurses. In the mix, all military personnel are important ~ but to engage in a short discussion about tactics and strategy would defeat the purpose of contributing to this thread.
Grace, not all officers have degrees. However, this does not mean they aren't educated. Quite a few move up the ranks and others fill slots with equivalency in life experience and I would dismiss the suggestion that lower ranks are substituted for medical officers on occasions when they are required.
Rather than ramble on some more, for further information, check out the below:
(one of our own does good