Become an operating department practitioner

Operating department practitioners (ODPs) are vital members of the hospital theatre team. As an ODP, you'll provide skilled care to patients before, during, and after their operation or surgical procedure.

A Pre-registration Diploma in Operating Department Practice is the route to becoming a registered ODP.

View job profile View vacancies

Photo of trainee operating department practitioner setting up anaesthetic machine

Training programme

The Diploma of Higher Education in Operating Department Practice is a 2-year programme delivered in partnership with the University of the West of Scotland. It includes online training and practice placements, where you'll progressively gain clinical experience. You'll also be fully supported by a mentor throughout the programme.

Once you've completed the programme, you'll become a qualified ODP eligible to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

What qualifications do I need to become a trainee ODP?

To apply for the Pre-registration Diploma in Operating Department Practice, you'll need these SQA qualifications or equivalent:

  • 2 Highers
  • 3 National 5's

Widening participation

If you don't have Highers and National 5’s, alternative qualifications at SCQF Level 6 or above may also be considered. To see if your qualification meets the requirements, visit the SCQF interactive framework

To find out more about historical SQA qualifications, including Standard Grades and Intermediate Levels, download the Scottish National Qualifications SCQF Levels and Timelines resource (PDF).

Photo of a trainee operating department practitioner adjusting the lighting in an operating theatre
Photo of ODP with life support equipment in a hospital theatre

What skills do I need to become a trainee ODP?

As a trainee ODP, you'll need these skills:

  • caring
  • communication
  • focus
  • organisation
  • teamwork
  • problem-solving

You'll have developed these skills and others at school, at work, socially, or by volunteering.

Read our transferable skills blog post

We're recruiting now

If you're dynamic, hard-working, and motivated a career as an operating department practitioner could be for you. We're recruiting for trainee ODPs across the West of Scotland now. 

Photo of 2 trainee ODP's wearing blue scrubs washing their hands at a scrub sink

Hannah, Trainee Operating Department Practitioner, NHS Lanarkshire

"I decided to become an ODP because I was inspired by my aunty who has been an ODP for 20 years."

Harry, Trainee Operating Department Practitioner, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

"What I like most is the hands-on patient care. Once I have completed the programme, I will be a registered practitioner."

View all career stories