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Published: 05 September 2013

What is an Operating Department Practitioner?

Looking for a challenging and rewarding career in healthcare? Andi Sambrook, Director of Studies for Operating Department Practice, answers key questions about training and working as an Operating Department Practitioner (ODP).

At Surrey we offer an exciting two-year DipHE in Operating Department Practice that will train you to become a qualified Operating Department Practitioner (ODP).

What does an Operating Department Practitioner do?

Andi Sambrook: Operating department practitioners (ODPs) are a vital part of the multidisciplinary operating theatre team, providing a high standard of patient-focused care during anaesthesia, surgery and recovery, responding to patients’ physical and psychological needs.

When students qualify, they can expect to work in the operating theatre and within the whole of the perioperative environment. They may work on the scrub side, on anaesthetics, in recovery or might mix and match work in all these areas. You may also work in other critical care areas, such as intensive care units and accident and the accident and emergency department. 

What’s the best thing about being an ODP?

AS: The ODP job is unique. You’ll be working alongside top surgeons and in a team where everyone has to work closely together. The operating theatre is a really fascinating environment to work in. One moment you could be helping to deliver babies, the next helping to save somebody’s life. Each day can go from the routine to the unexpected.

What’s the starting salary for an Operating Department practitioner?

AS: There are just over 13,000 registered ODPs in the UK, and we need more. There’s such demand that you’re almost guaranteed to get a job once you qualify.

In terms of the salary, people will start on NHS band 5 (over £21,000) and there is the opportunity for salaries to rise quickly. Demonstrating advanced skills will enable you to move into band 6 and then potentially band 7. Then the sky is your limit!

How can you prepare for an Operating Department Practitioner course?

AS: Research the job – many people have never heard of it. We recommend going to a local hospital trust and asking to spend a bit of time there to investigate the job and what it’s all about.

Why study Operating Department Practice at Surrey?

AS: We have a good reputation and great facilities in our simulation suite. Surrey's nursing and midwifery programmes are also ranked second in the UK by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016, third by the Guardian University Guide 2017 and fourth by the Complete University Guide 2017.

We have developed a unique programme that ensures students are trained and fit for the job. At the end of the programme, students spend time working in consolidated or supervised practice so once they graduate and join the register, they're ready to go out and work as an ODP straight away.

See photos of our ODP students training and find out more about our DipHE in Operating Department Practice.

Come to a Surrey Open Day

Book your place at one of our Open Days to learn more about our Operating Department Practitioner course, tour our facilities and meet our staff and students. Book your place.

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