Ruth, Operating Department Practitioner, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

Ruth is an operating department practitioner (ODP) working in theatre recovery. She looks after patients before their surgical procedure, helping them feel less anxious. When patients return from theatre, Ruth monitors them while they recover from the effects of anaesthesia and surgery, so they can be safely discharged to a ward.

Why did you decide to become an operating department practitioner?

My background is in science and I worked as a school technician for many years. My post was being made redundant, so I decided it was time for a career change. I saw a job advert for the trainee operating department practitioner training programme and I applied. That's how I got started in the NHS.

Describe a typical day as an ODP

I'm an ODP working in recovery. My day starts with setting up the recvery area ready to receive patients. I then go to the ward and bring my patient to the waiting area. When the patient returns from theatre, I monitor and check their heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. When their physiological condition is stable, it's safe for the patient to be returned to the ward.

What are the most important skills for an operating department practitioner?

The most important skill for an ODP is communication. It's really important that you communicate clearly with your colleagues, so patients receive the best standard of care possible. You also need to be able to speak to patients and put them at ease. Some patients are very nervous, especially if it's their first time having surgery.

You also need to have a good eye for detail as an ODP. When looking after a patient, you're checking for signs of deterioration, so the appropriate interventions and treatment can be provided, if needed.

Is there anything about your role that you think people would be surprised about?

Some people may be surprised about the number of people needed to look after a patient on their perioperative journey. When I started as a trainee ODP, I thought that there would only be a surgeon, an anaesthetist, and one other person in the theatre. But, that's not the case. There is a whole team of people looking after the patient, making sure they receive a high standard of care.

What advice would you give to others thinking about becoming an operating department practitioner?

If you're interested in becoming an ODP, speak to as many ODP's as you can. Find out about their work and what they enjoy most about the role.

Visit the NHSScotland website to find out more about the ODP training programme.

Become an operating department practitioner

Find out more about the Pre-registration Diploma in Operating Practice and apply now.

Explore our careers

Find out more about a career as an operating department practitioner.