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A rewarding healthcare career – that you have probably never heard of

From saving lives to helping deliver babies – there’s a rewarding and challenging healthcare career that most people don’t even know exists.

While the importance of nurses, midwives and doctors is recognised by patients and their families, the media and the general public, few people are aware of the role of the Registered Operating Department Practitioner, also known as an ODP.

There is an acute shortage of operating department practitioners and to help address this the University of Hull will promote this important career choice by celebrating a national Operating Department Practitioner (ODP) day on Monday 14 May.

The University, which is committed to raising the profile of the role in order to improve the health of our region by addressing staff shortages in our hospitals, runs a degree programme in operating department practice.

Deborah Robinson, Head of the School of Health and Social Work at the University of Hull, teaches on the degree programme, sharing her experiences as a senior operating department practitioner with York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust where she worked for 17 years. She said:

“Although television programmes like Casualty and Holby City often portray the staff working on the wards also working in the operating theatre – this is so far away from the truth.

“The reality is different and involves operating department practitioners who are highly skilled and educated specifically to support the anaesthetist and the surgeon in the operating theatre. They are integral to all operations and are the ones who – among many other tasks – will count items meticulously such as swabs, needles and surgical instruments  to ensure patients do not leave the operating theatre with unwanted extras!”

Operating department practitioners predominantly work in the operating theatre environment, although their transferable skills, knowledge base and expertise are used in a broad range of critical care areas such as intensive care units or on resuscitation teams. Through the academic dimension of the course, students gain key, valuable theoretical skills which can be applied in a working environment.

The University makes a significant contribution to the health of the region by training many different health professionals for the workforce of the NHS and other healthcare organisations. Strong partnerships with local trusts, including Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, result in high employability rates for our healthcare students.

For three consecutive years 100% of ODP, nursing, midwifery and medical graduates have been in employment or further education within 6 months.*

Olayemi Elizabeth Ajayi, who is studying Operating Department Practice at the University of Hull, said:

“I chose this degree as I have always wanted to study in the medical and surgical field. I chose to come to Hull because I was amazed by all the opportunities here. I feel it has prepared me. I would advise people to do it. It changes you – in a positive way.”

Operating Department Practice students spend 60% of their time caring for patients before, during and after surgery on clinical placements; and 40% studying on campus.

Professor Julie Jomeen, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Hull said:

“Operating department practitioners are an essential part of any operating team. They are responsible for preparing all the necessary equipment for a patient throughout a surgical journey; caring for the patient during anaesthesia alongside the anaesthetist; providing the correct surgical instruments and materials to the surgeon; and supporting the patient immediately after the operation. It is a very rewarding profession and I am delighted that we are able to help raise awareness of the opportunity to study here at the University in order to follow this career path.”

National Operating Department Practitioner (ODP) day, which has been organised by the College of Operating Department Practitioners and one of the UK’s largest trade unions, UNISON, will encourage operating department practitioners to come out from behind closed theatre doors and show healthcare colleagues and the public more about their profession and how important ODPs are to excellent patient care.

Operating Department Practitioners and students dressed in their operating scrubs will be available to give their insights into the profession at two locations in Hull: opposite Tesco in St Stephen’s shopping centre (10-4.30pm) and also at the Brynmor Jones Library (plaza entrance) at the University’s campus on Cottingham Road, Hull (9.30-4pm). All are welcome to come along to meet our staff and students at the two stands which will have a selection cakes, sweets, pens and notepads.

You can also find out more by reading Deborah Robinson’s article in The Conversation here by following #ODPday on Twitter.

*(Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education for the academic year 2015/16, published by HESA June 2017).

“Although television programmes like Casualty and Holby City often portray the staff working on the wards also working in the operating theatre – this is so far away from the truth."

Deborah Robinson, Head of the School of Health and Social Work at the University of Hull

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