What is an operating department practitioner (ODP)?

Operating Department Practitioners

ODPs (operating department practitioners) are allied health professionals (AHPs) who are based in operating theatres.

Whether you're interested in a career as an ODP, or you're a patient who wants to know more about who you're seeing, we've got all the information you need. 

ODPs at UHDB explain more about their job roles.

What is an ODP and what patients do they see?

Operating department practitioners (ODPs) work in three key areas; anaesthetics, surgery and recovery. In anaesthetics the role involved assisting the anaesthetic doctor during general and local anaesthetics.

In surgery the ODP will participate as part of the operative team, meeting a variety of patients from very small children to older adults and everything between and perform a number of roles, including the scrubbed role. In recovery the ODP will receive, assess and deliver patient care on the patient’s arrival into the recovery area. They will monitor the patients physiological parameters, providing appropriate interventions and treatment until the patient has recovered from the effects of the anaesthesia and/or surgery and is stable.

What’s a typical day for an OPD?

“I work in Surgical and I work with patients who are having surgical procedures and operations. This involves me in many roles caring for the patient. My main roles are assisting the anaesthetic doctor to make the patient safe during general or local anaesthesia, scrubbing up assisting the surgeon during the operation, maintaining infection control practices and caring for the patient after the procedure."

“I joined the Trust because my practice placement was here when I was an ODP student at university. I found I enjoyed the variety of work and specialities in Derby, and the team was very supportive. We need to do the right procedure at the right time in the safest possible way. A typical day starts at 8am and you would see me preparing the operating theatre, making sure the environment and equipment is in place and safe to use."

“The job is quite varied. I could be assisting the anaesthetist with procedures to render the patient pain free and at a level the surgeon can operate safely. There is an element where we would manage the medications and patients airway. Often the patient will have to be ventilated and this needs monitoring effectively. One of my other roles is scrubbing with the surgeon to provide the equipment for that procedure. If you can imagine, learning about the equipment and using it safely is very important to the conduct of the operation.”

Career paths for an ODP

An ODP falls under the umbrella of Allied Health Professionals (AHPs). There are two routes into the profession, one is the conventional route through university and the other is an apprenticeship. Both routes require GCSEs and A levels, to qualify to get onto the course. You will be expected to do both Academic work at the university and clinical placements within a hospital or a number of hospitals on a rotational basis. The course for both routes is three years, where you will come out with a qualification in Operating Department Practice and be able to register with the HCPC which is the regulatory body for the profession.

Why I became an OPD

“I did some work experience in my local hospital and met and shadowed some ODPs. I found the whole experience amazing and thought it was a rewarding career, helping people through what can be a traumatic period in their life. I enjoy my job because I get satisfaction from looking after our patients. If you think about it, it is one of the most vulnerable times in their journey, If the patient is sedated, or under general anaesthetic where they are asleep for their surgery, somebody clinically competent and caring needs to advocate their rights and their beliefs for their safety.”