Celebrating our Operating Department Practitioners on National ODP Day | News

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Celebrating our Operating Department Practitioners on National ODP Day

The Trust is celebrating National Operating Department Practitioners (ODP) day on May 14.  Our team of ODPs are part of the hospital’s theatre teams delivering patient care before, during and after operations.

It’s a specialist role which requires specific qualifications.  These can be acquired once a full nursing training has been completed or directly through the Trust’s ODP Apprenticeship programme. 

To mark this year’s National ODP Day, third year apprentice Abi Sheppard talks about the course and the responsibilities of an ODP.

Abi was working as a technician in the hospital’s sleep clinic when she saw the advert for the Operating Department Practitioner Apprenticeship.  She knew she wanted to work somewhere in healthcare long-term and the ODP role appealed because she wasn’t sure nursing on the wards was for her:

“Before applying for the apprenticeship, I shadowed an ODP shift which confirmed my interest.  It was the specialisation in theatres that appealed and the apprenticeship allowed a more direct route to get there.”

The Operating Department Practitioner Apprenticeship is partnered with Buckinghamshire New University where Abi has done her blocks of study which vary between one and five weeks in duration.  It’s three days there in person and two days home study.  Abi says this has also given her exposure to the caseloads and experiences of those from other Trusts on her course. Then there’s the clinical competencies to tick off at the Royal Surrey Hospital to complement the academic modules.

The three year course has required some juggling between the 50:50 balance of clinical placement and academic studies but Abi says it’s been easier than she anticipated:

“Although the balance was challenging to begin with, my mentors here are really good at teaching and I’ve felt very supported in the hospital – no question is too small and I’ve built great relationships with the theatre teams.”

Izzy Brookes is the Practice Development Lead in the Royal Surrey Main Theatres and Day Surgery Unit.  She is currently looking through applications for the next apprenticeship cohort.  She says people are drawn to being an Operating Department Practitioner from a number of backgrounds.  Ideally, in addition to some healthcare experience the apprentice applicants would have a certain skillset:

“Level headed, calm, compassionate individuals with good practical skills, it’s not just about caring, there’s also an element of practicality needed and being technically minded.  They will be required to think on their feet and problem solve in a very quick, critical environment.”

Once qualified our Operating Department Practitioners can work in three different areas in theatre; anaesthetics, scrubs or post-op.  Although it is possible to specialise from a general nursing qualification to work in theatre, Izzy says if you know you want to do theatre work, the apprenticeship is definitely a quicker route of getting there.

As Abi’s apprenticeship is coming to an end, she is certain her future is in one of the specialisms of ODP: 

“It’s an exciting role – things you see are very much at the coalface – it’s rapid, ever changing and not without its challenges.  But I like the small team, it’s like a family really with no day ever the same.”

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