Introduction Introduction

Operating department practitioners (ODPs) are an important part of the operating theatre team, working alongside surgeons, anaesthetists, theatre nurses and other healthcare professionals to help ensure that every surgical procedure is as safe and effective as possible.

As a graduate of our DipHE Operating Department Practice programme at UEA, you will have developed the knowledge, skills and attitudes to become a safe and competent practitioner. You will have graduated from one of the best schools of health in the UK, and be ready to embark upon an exciting career.

Once you have graduated as an operating department practitioner, you will need to register with your professional body, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) so that you can be accepted on to a national register of health and care professionals. Once registered, you will be eligible to work as an ODP in the UK and overseas.

A day in the life.... A day in the life....

As an operating department practitioner, you will primarily be working in all aspects of perioperative care including anaesthetics, operating theatres and post-operative recovery. Working in the theatre is a rich and rewarding experience but it can also be physically and emotionally demanding. The ability to be a good team player as well as working autonomously will be integral to your role.

You would normally work within an anaesthetic, surgical or recovery team. However, you could also work in such areas as accident and emergency, intensive care, day surgery clinics, maternity units and resuscitation teams.

Most employers will offer a period of preceptorship after qualification, which can vary in length. Once you have qualified, pay and responsibility will depend upon experience and further specialist skills you may acquire.  It is possible to become a senior ODP, perhaps running a theatre unit.  ODPs may work in a range of areas including transplant teams, orthopaedic clinics and special care baby units. There are also opportunities in research, education and training.

NHS Real Life Story: Maggie Williams

Top Tip: Continue to be evidence based, life-long learners in what you do and keep updated at all times.

Becoming a leader Becoming a leader

Once you have gained your DipHE, you may decide to specialise in the anaesthetic phase and, with further training, become an anaesthetic care practitioner. Alternatively, it is possible to specialise in surgery and become a surgical care practitioner.

After you have gained further experience, you could go on to a career in management, education or clinical research.

As part of their professional registration, ODPs are required to maintain a portfolio to demonstrate that they are keeping their skills and knowledge up to date with annual CPD (continuing professional development).

Tony Jermy
ODP Lecturer and Associate Director – Enterprise, School of Health Sciences says:

I was a student on the first-ever ODP intake. The programme not only gave me the underpinning skills I needed to be a competent clinical practitioner but also helped me to recognise and develop my leadership and management skills that I now use daily. I qualified in 2005 and after spending seven amazing years in the NHS I moved from clinical practice into a career of academia and back to the UEA. I now teach on the course I was once a student on and feel very privileged to pass on my knowledge, skills and expertise to those beginning their professional journey into healthcare.
I also hold another role within the school as Associate Director for Enterprise. Within this role I work with a variety of local, national and international partners, looking at ways to generate new business opportunities for the school and university. This may on the surface appear far removed from working in an operating theatre in a busy NHS Trust, however, I have been able to transfer many skills that I learned and developed as an ODP to the world of enterprise and business.



Key Information Key Information

What would my starting salary be?

Band 5, (Agenda for Change pay scales), rising with several years’ experience.  You should always check with the employer to confirm the pay rate for any post for which you are applying.

What hours would I be working?

Full time weekly hours will be 37.5 (this may include nights, weekend and shift work)

Where could I work?

There is currently a national shortage of ODPs in the UK, so there are lots of opportunities for jobs and this is likely to grow. Local employers such as the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals (NNUH), Queen Elizabeth Hospital Kings Lynn NHS Trust (QEH) and the James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (JPUH) take on many of our graduates.  You could find work within the NHS, as well as private hospitals around the UK. You could also work as an ODP within the Armed Forces. 

Australia and New Zealand are popular destinations should you wish to work further afield.


Employability Directory

useful links useful links

Health Careers
This provides all the information you will need about health careers.

National Careers Service
Provides information, advice and guidance on learning, training and work opportunities.

Health and Care Professions Council
The HCPC is the regulating body for health and care professionals. They maintain a database of registered ODPs who meet the necessary standard of education that is required to practice. Once you finish your training at UEA you will need to register with the HSPC in order to become a registered professional before you can be employed as a registered practitioner with the NHS. 

College of Operating Department Practitioners 
ODPs and students can seek advice and guidance on professional issues from members of the Professional Council while at the same time enjoying the full benefits of UNISON membership, such as indemnity insurance, workplace representation and access to legal representation on employment issues.

Further Training:

Acute & Critical Care Level 6 and 7
This is designed for Registered Health Care Professionals such as registered nurses, paramedics or ODPs who must:
- work with patients who are acutely or critically ill
- have access to a clinical mentor.
Support from your employing organisation is required.

Massive Open Online Courses
We currently offer a range of interactive MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) via our partner FutureLearn. MOOCs are free, flexible web-based courses creating large-scale, global participation in short, topical modules. Every MOOC is designed and delivered by our academics leading in their field, giving the learner access to unique, high quality content. 

Continuing Professional Development 


Employability Directory