Operating department practitioners (ODPs) support theatre staff while they carry out complex procedures, and care for theatre patients before, during and immediately after surgery. They work alongside surgeons, anaesthetists and theatre nurses.
You could be:
cleaning and sterilising surgical instruments before the operation
preparing drugs, drips and dressings
preparing all the necessary instruments and equipment for the procedure
standing by during the operation, handing over each instrument, swab or dressing as the surgeon needs it and counting them all at the end
reassuring the patients before and during the administration of the anaesthetics, helping lift the patients on to the operating table and monitoring them while they are unconscious
helping with resuscitation if a patient stops breathing
taking patients to the recovery room, checking up on them as they come round and arranging for their transfer back to the ward
checking stock levels of theatre supplies and keeping records.
You would normally work within either a surgical, anaesthetic or recovery team. However, you may sometimes work in other departments, such as accident and emergency, intensive care, or with resuscitation teams and helicopter emergency medical services.
ODPs working in the NHS are generally on Band 5, £24,670 to £30,742 a year. The current pay scales are from April 2019.
Pay will be different for ODPs working outside the NHS.
You work shifts would cover evenings, weekends and public holidays.
Part time work is available and on call duty is common.
An operation might unexpectedly last hours past the end of your shift.
You work mostly in the operating theatre which is bright, clean, sterile, warm and air-conditioned.
You wear a face mask and head covering as well as surgical gloves, gown and shoes.
You must stay alert while standing in the one position for hours at a time.
You must get used to blood and other unpleasant sights and smells. There can be a slight risk of infection.
The work can be stressful and emergency situations can occur at any time.
BSc (Hons) degrees at English and Welsh universities take 3 years. Courses in operating department practice include anatomy, anaesthetics, surgery, pharmacology, microbiology, infection and science. (Unlike nurses, ODPs are trained in anaesthesia as part of their basic course).
On completion of the degree, you are eligible to apply for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), which is necessary for working in the NHS.
There is growing demand for ODPs. Most jobs are in the NHS, but there are also jobs in private or military hospitals. Temporary work is available through agencies.
After training and experience you can move into more senior grades, perhaps in training or management. Some employers encourage experienced ODPs to do further training in technical and managerial skills.
The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) is the UK-wide regulatory body responsible for setting and maintaining standards of professional training, performance and conduct in the following health care professions: Arts Therapists; Audiologist; Biomedical Scientist; Chiropodist and Podiatrist; Clinical Scientist; Dietician; Dramatherapist; Occupational Therapist; Operating Department Practitioner; Orthoptist; Paramedic; Physiotherapist; Practitioner Psychologist; Prosthetist and Orthotist; Radiographer; Speech and Language Therapist. (The HCPC may regulate other healthcare professions in the future.) The HCPC website contains a register of all approved courses in the above professions.