There’s many terms used for hospital jobs that the general public are familiar with; staff nurses, matrons, even RGN. However, the phrase ‘ODP’ is still relatively unknown and can leave patients non-plussed about what to expect.
This lack of awareness is also present to a lesser extent within the medical profession itself. Although the job title has been in place since 2004, many hospitals have chosen to use other names to describe a similar role, such as Theatre Nurse.
ODP jobs demand advanced levels of knowledge, technical ability and expertise. We provide a short guide to what you can expect from a career in this field.
ODP ? the basics
ODP is an abbreviation of Operating Department Practitioner and refers to a role which is highly skilled and technical in nature, as well as incorporating the core components of nursing such as patient communication.
The job usually involves working in theatre in sterile surroundings, carrying out various tasks related to surgery. The ODP role has a strong overlap with that of Theatre Nurse but primarily relates to anaesthesia, the surgery and the recovery phase.
A Diploma of Higher Education in Operating Department Practice is required and many employers will also stipulate that the member of staff must be registered with the College of Operating Department Practitioners (CODP) as well as state enrolled.
What the role involves
An ODP is responsible for all aspects of the patient’s care and must consider everything from prepping the equipment and having everything ready to infection control and wound management.
There are three main stages to the role of an ODP: anaesthesia, surgery and recovery.
Anaesthesia: During this part of the process an ODP must juggle the emotional needs of the patient with practical concerns such as getting the equipment ready. Whilst the patient is still conscious, an ODP must be focused on assessing their needs and providing the necessary level of support.
At the same time, it is the ODP’s responsibility to gather the equipment, implements and drugs required to safely administer the anaesthetic. During the whole process, the ODP will aid the anaesthetist.
Surgery: Probably the most stressful part of the whole role, during the actual operation the ODP should be on hand to assist the surgeon, anticipating needs rather than simply responding to requests. They will also be responsible for keeping account of all swabs and implements as well as other aspects of health and safety.
In circumstances where the surgical team need to communicate with other parts of the hospital, the ODP will normally assume the role.
Recovery: Once the surgery is complete, the OPD will receive the patient in the recovery room, evaluate the care given and decide what further interventions are necessary in order to stabilise them. This stage requires continuous assessment during which time the OPD will deliver the treatment required to stabilise the individual sufficiently to allow them to return to the ward.
An OPD will set up all kinds of equipment and administer medication before, during and after surgery
OPD career options
An OPD would primarily be found in a theatre environment, providing all of the above support to the surgeon and anaesthetist and becoming an integral part of the team.
There are a number of options open to an OPD including surgical assistant, scrubbed person, as well as the non-sterile circulation role. The OPD has a fundamental part to play in not just the preparation of the equipment and the environment, but also with patient care and infection control.
Whilst many OPDs may perform all of the above functions, it is possible to specialise in a particular area and take your skills to an even higher level. This is often particularly seen with OPDs who aid anaesthetists; where they can go on to play a role in trauma teams, carrying out procedures such as intubation in the absence of other more qualified medical professionals. OPDs often are part of any transfer team where a patient who is seriously ill is being moved from one hospital to another.
OPDs may find roles in other departments in addition to theatre such as Intensive Care or SCBU
Conclusion: OPD may sound like an administrative job title but in reality it is a highly trained medical profession, with gruelling physical demands and tough emotional pressures. However, for those able to withstand the rigours of the job, working as an OPD provides the opportunity to enhance your nursing knowledge and skills and go on to provide more advanced care in a variety of settings.
Author Bio: Written by Samantha, an experienced Healthcare writer who suggests visiting the Nuffield health careers site for more information about OPD careers.
Image credits: Zdenko Zivkovic and didbygraham