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).
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.
The ODP plays a vital role in this field, acting as the anaesthetists’ assistant. Undergoing anaesthesia is a frightening experience for many patients, and you’ll learn how to support patients through this difficult time. Your duties during these placements, and in your work as a registered ODP, will include:
Throughout your course you may get experience in a wide range of anaesthetic techniques and specialities including:
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.
Both roles involve working closely with a team of theatre practitioners, surgeons and anaesthetists to deliver excellent and safe patient care. Across the course you’ll gain experience in a range of specialities which may include:
In the scrubbed role you’ll wear a surgical gown and gloves and will be part of the sterile team performing the operation on the patient. You’ll work closely with your surgeon, or surgeons and will act as a vital link between the sterile team and the rest of the theatre team. Your duties may include:
The circulating practitioner, sometimes called a ‘runner’, is a vital part of the surgical team, and provides a link between the theatre and the rest of the hospital. Circulating practitioners may perform the following duties:
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.
The purpose of PACU is to assess the patients after their operation and prepare them for discharge to a ward, discharge unit, intensive care unit or other department as needed. This makes PACU a very diverse area to work in and you will commonly experience a range of anaesthetic techniques, surgeries and specific needs of patients in a day, meaning you need to be able to think on your feet and react under pressure. Smooth running of the theatre department relies on a streamlined PACU process, so you will be playing a vital role as part of the larger theatre team. Additionally anaesthesia can have different effects on different individuals, and this can be a very frightening time for many patients, so you will need to show empathy, compassion and respect throughout. Sometimes a patient may come to PACU from another ward to be monitored before being transferred out of the department.
Your duties in PACU may include: