A Night Shift as an Operating Department Practitioner
If you're thinking about a career in the operating theatre, the role of Operating Department Practitioner (ODP) may be the perfect choice. Find out what a night shift as an ODP is like from one of our alumna, Michelle Ross.
I arrive in the department at 8:30pm to begin a night shift of 9:00pm to 8:00am. Checking the duty board I’m allocated to the emergency theatre so a quick change into theatre scrubs then I have a handover from the day team.
This includes an account of what emergencies have been booked and the potential order of cases, any issues that need escalating and confirmation of checks that have been completed then taking charge of the controlled drugs keys. Then the anaesthetist's bleep sounds 'paediatric trauma A & E'. They ask me to accompany them to the call, and we arrive as the paramedics are transferring a baby on to the trolley. The anaesthetist immediately takes over the management of the baby's airway while I connect the breathing circuit to the pipe line oxygen. The baby’s airway is becoming compromised and we need to intubate, I prepare the endotracheal tubes while vascular access is being established. It’s a grade one intubation and the baby’s airway is secured. Next I prepare the equipment for a central venous and arterial access for the anaesthetist and return to the main theatre department as I am no longer required.
They ask me to accompany them to the call, and we arrive as the paramedics are transferring a baby on to the trolley. The anaesthetist immediately takes over the management of the baby's airway while I connect the breathing circuit to the pipe line oxygen.
The decision is made to pause in sending for the next patient until the anaesthetist returns, however I prepare the anaesthetic room for the next potential case; airway equipment and fluid resuscitation. This break in surgery allows me time to prepare the theatre department for the following day - just one of the night shift duties. A total of seven theatres require each anaesthetic room to be set up for the first case on their operating list. This necessitates a knowledge of anaesthetic requirements for all surgical specialities to ensure the correct equipment is made available. However, the team is called to return to theatre to brief on the next case so the jobs will have to wait until later.
This break in surgery allows me time to prepare the theatre department for the following day - just one of the night shift duties.
Team brief confirms the next case to be an adult requiring an appendectomy. The patient arrives and I introduce myself and explain that I need to ask some questions to confirm the patient's identity, ensure consent has been given and relevant information to ensure documentation has been completed correctly. Gaining a rapport with the patient alleviates their anxiety a little and i ask if I can apply some monitoring. With blood pressure cuff, ECG and pulse oximetry all in place I explain to the patient the process of applying pressure to their cricoid cartilage as it will be a rapid sequence induction. Equipment all in place, induction of anaesthesia commences. Once the patient is anaesthetised I assist with the transfer into theatre. As the patient's advocate I ensure all monitoring is working correctly, intra venous access is patent, pressure areas protected and warming measures in place. I provide assistance to the anaesthetist during the surgical procedure to ensure the patient remains stable. Surgery concludes and I assist with extubation and the patient is transferred to the post-operative care unit. With a swift clean down of anaesthetic machines and monitoring and clinical waste removed, I ensure the anaesthetic room is ready for any eventuality.
Gaining a rapport with the patient alleviates their anxiety a little...
It is now midnight and there are no life or limb threatening cases so night duties commence - completion of setting up anaesthetic rooms, dedicated monthly cleaning tasks, daily emergency equipment and trolley checks along with restocking of the emergency theatre. I also accompany the on call anaesthetist to four rhesus calls, two of which required my assistance with intubation and transfer to the CT scanner. In between this time, the emergency obstetric theatre has been busy so I have helped my fellow ODP with their duties as team work during night shifts is essential and ensures patient safety.
Finally the shift is coming to an end and consequently all anaesthetic machines are turned on in readiness, the controlled drugs are checked and the emergency theatre anaesthetic machines are tested. My day time ODP colleague arrives, I hand over the relevant information of the night's events and my shift ends!