The role of the Operating Department Practitioner

Two medics in an operating theatre

Working as an operating department practitioner (ODP) is diverse and includes a wide range of skills across the entire perioperative patient journey.

As a registered ODP you’ll work in one or more of three main areas in the theatre environment, as well as in critical care environments such as intensive care and A&E. You’ll gain competence in all areas of theatres through focused practice modules across your entire course. You’ll be supervised throughout your course by qualified mentors. The three main areas are: anaesthetics, surgery and Post-Anaesthetic Care Unit (PACU).

Anaesthetics role

Anaesthesia is a skilled area, requiring attention to detail, technological knowledge, knowledge of anatomy and physiology and pharmacology, and importantly excellent communication skills, compassion and empathy and respect for patient dignity.

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Surgery: scrubbed role and circulating role

In the surgical role the ODP can perform two different tasks: acting as the scrub practitioner, or circulating practitioner. You’ll commonly work in both roles in one day.

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Post-Anaesthetic Care Unit (PACU)

The Post Anaesthetic Care Unit (PACU), sometimes known as recovery, is the final stage in patients’ perioperative journey, and employs a one-to-one practitioner to patient ratio.

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