‘A wonderful career’ – celebrating our Operating Department Practitioners

14 May 2023 is ODP Day when we celebrate our Operating Department Practitioners and raise awareness of this essential role within healthcare.

This year the theme is ‘Advancing the Profession’. Here at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals (BTH), we’re proud to share the achievements and growth of our ODPs.

Emma is an ODP currently working in Research and Development.

Qualifying in 2012 at University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) with a DipHE in Operating Department Practice, Emma worked at BTH in general theatres for seven years before becoming the only AHP currently in R&D. She now works alongside nurses, practitioners and administrators delivering clinical research trials across the SACCT division

Having a surgical background has been exceptionally helpful for Emma’s research role as due to her experience, she now leads on clinical trials across surgery, anaesthetics and gastroenterology. Since qualifying she has undertaken a degree in professional practice and has also gone on to be a guest lecturer at UCLan for the ODP students on their research module. She is currently undertaking a post-graduate certificate in health informatics and working towards a MSc.

She said: “It’s a privilege to be able care for people throughout their peri-operative journey, ODPs are highly skilled members of the MDT. Unfortunately, the profession is not well recognised. In the last few years more ODPs have progressed into roles that are outside of the traditional operating theatre setting. I would encourage other ODPs to consider apply for roles outside of the theatre environment if it’s something they wish to pursue, their skill set is highly transferable.”

Jennifer is a trainee anaesthesia associate.

Reflecting on her career, Jen says: “My mum saw the advert in the local paper and sent me along to an open event. We knew someone who was an ODP and they had said what a great career it was, so I thought, why not give it a try! I really had no idea when I started but it has been one of the best decisions I ever made!

“ODPs have been compared to being ‘a Mutley to the anaesthetist’s Dick Dastardly’ which I think most ODPs can relate to.

“In theatres, we often know what the anaesthetist wants before they do, we pre-empt and pre-think, allowing them to get on with the right here and now. We are highly specialised and knowledgeable practitioners with lots of highly transferable skills – something that was shown during Covid when lots of my colleagues went to work on Critical Care.

“I felt passionate about needing people to know what an ODP was and I wanted to try and engage with our other AHP colleagues. I spent eight months in the PEF team looking after our AHP students and also helping the educators. As much as I loved the job, I knew I had always aspired to be an anaesthesia associate and when the opportunity to be trained here at Blackpool arose, I had to grab the opportunity with both hands! I think my experience of working in theatres has given me a great base of knowledge for me to go onto this.

“Anyone thinking about becoming an ODP, especially if they already work in the Trust, should come and spend a day in theatres. It is such a wonderful career and they would be welcomed. I’ve worked in theatres for nearly 11 years now and I can truly say it is some of the best years of my life. We have such a varied role and you never know what the day will bring. As for my trainee AA role… I am still in the very early days! I have got so much to learn however I am thoroughly enjoying it! I know it is where I am supposed to be!”

Abbey is an apprentice ODP just finishing her third year and has already secured a permanent role in cardiac theatres.

She began a health and social care course which included two days’ placement including spending time in theatre. Then after attending an open day at Chorley hospital, Abbey knew theatre was what she wanted to do. She began her apprenticeship here in September 2020.

She says: “I didn’t need to have much experience as the training has been brilliant.  My role here is very hands on and it’s very intense but it’s also great to see patients you’ve looked after such as those in intensive care, recovering from surgery and knowing the part you have played in that.

“I would definitely recommend taking an apprenticeship as an ODP. It’s a great place to work, you train on the job and get such good support from the doctors. I love being in cardiac, my confidence has grown massively when I look back to when I started as an 18-year-old.”

For further information on career paths and working as an ODP please see CODP – ODP Microsite and NHS Careers – ODP roles

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