Operating Department Practitioner


Operating Department Practitioners (ODPs) provide skilled care and support to patients at all stages of an operation.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship

You’ll need to study a two-year diploma of higher education or three-year degree in operating department practice approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). You can top up your diploma to a degree after qualifying if you want.

You’ll find it helpful to get some paid or voluntary experience in the health or care sector before you apply for a course.

You could contact the voluntary services co-ordinator at your local NHS trust for further advice.

As well as a student loan, you may be eligible for the NHS Learning Support Fund, which helps with hardship, travel and childcare costs.

Entry Requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree



You can get into this role through a degree apprenticeship as an operating department practitioner.

Entry Requirements

Employers will set their own entry requirements.

You’ll need:

  • knowledge of medicine
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • knowledge of biology
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • active listening skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

You could work in an NHS or private hospital.

You’ll support patients of all ages, in the anaesthetic, surgery and recovery phases of an operation.  Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • helping patients who may be anxious or vulnerable, to get ready for surgery
  • preparing the operating theatre
  • making sure drugs and specialist equipment are available
  • monitoring theatre cleanliness
  • providing the surgical team with the items they need during an operation
  • monitoring instruments and use medical equipment and devices
  • communicating on behalf of the surgical team with other hospital staff
  • supporting and monitoring patients in the recovery unit as they come round from surgery
  • assessing when they are ready to go on to a ward

The following salaries are a guide only:

  • Starting salary: £25,000
  • Experienced person: £31,000


Working Conditions

  • You may work evenings or weekends. 
  • Your working environment may be hot and physically and emotionally demanding.
  • You may need to wear a uniform.
  • You’ll need to register with the Health and Care Professions Council.
  • You will need to pass enhances background checks.