The aim of the apprenticeship is to enable you to become an adaptable, effective, confident, capable, safe practitioner.

Operating Department Practice is an exciting and rewarding career that involves working with many different patient groups undergoing a variety of anaesthetic and surgical interventions. This apprenticeship will equip you with the knowledge, skills and professional attitudes to meet the needs of patients, employers and other health and social care professionals you may work with. The focus for this programme is on the experience of the patient throughout their perioperative journey and the role of practitioners delivering care primarily within three core areas identified as: the anaesthetic phase, the surgical phase and the post anaesthetic (recovery) phase, within an interprofessional approach to perioperative care.

What the apprenticeship covers

Operating Department Practitioners (ODPs) are registered healthcare professionals specialising in caring for people of all ages before, during and after surgery. ODPs therefore mainly work in operating departments. They work alongside other professionals (such as doctors and nurses) and take a lead role in ensuring a patient is safe during each stage of a patient’s journey through the operating theatre. ODPs must continually make professional decisions to ensure the patient receives the best care before, during and after their surgery. ODPs also ensure that the operating theatre environment is safe and effective and therefore have expertise in the management of specialist equipment and materials in a highly technical environment, for example handling surgical instruments, checking anaesthetic equipment, moving patients and giving medication ODPs must demonstrate confidence, compassion, competence and effective judgement; being responsible for their decisions. They must use evidence-based practice to inform and evaluate the effectiveness of the actions they take with the aim of continually improving outcomes for patients. They are responsible for ensuing their own professional knowledge and skills through continuous professional development (CPD) and support the development of others.

What will I study?

The Operating Department Practitioner degree apprenticeship programme is underpinned by a strong interprofessional education theme which focuses on collaborative working within healthcare settings. University learning will support and reinforce your workplace learning where you will be able to apply your knowledge and learn more about the clinical side of being an Operating Department Practitioner. Similarly, workplace learning will support and reinforce University learning, so that theory and practice support each other in the development of knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to become an ODP.

Year 1 focuses primarily with the introduction of concepts and principles that underpin Operating Department Practice. As an apprentice you will be introduced to biological, sociological, psychological and behavioural concepts that will facilitate the development and understanding of the specialist needs of a patient throughout the perioperative experience. The first year of the apprenticeship is designed to serve as a foundation for ODP apprentices who will learn about professional expectations and values, the structure of health and social care, academic expectations, skills for practice and the role and responsibilities of an ODP in a modern health service.

Year 2 aims to cover the development of more complex topics: professional development, advancing anaesthetic practice, pathophysiology for operating department practice, advancing surgical practice and immediate postoperative care. During this year practice placements aim to extend your capacity in applying theory to practice and extend your clinical practice competence. Like the first year, the nature of clinical placements means the taught component relating to anaesthetic, surgery and post anaesthetics will develop the clinical competencies necessary to practice safely and effectively as an ODP in all three phases of perioperative care; the anaesthetic phase, the surgical phase and the post anaesthetic (recovery) phase.

Year 3 aims to enhance and support your development as a safe, effective and competent operating department practitioner. Topics include: development and enhancement of professional practice, surgical first assistant, immediate post-operative care, caring for seriously ill patients, leadership and management. Preparation for the workplace and enhancing your reflective practice form part of your placement learning for the final years of the course.

Year 4 will consist of one trimester (September to January) during which time the End Point Assessment (EPA) will take place. The EPA is part of the integrated degree apprenticeship for Operating Department Practitioners and contributes the final 20 level 6 academic credits to the integrated degree. Your employer, in consultation with the programme team, will confirm when you are eligible to progress to the EPA during this final trimester. The EPA is an independent assessment that tests the achievement of the necessary knowledge, skills and behaviours identified in the apprenticeship standard and can be considered ‘job ready’.

All about the course

Academic Skills 1 (20 credits)

The aim of this first-year module is to enable you to gain foundation-level skills for effective study throughout the programme by using a range of academic, professional and interpersonal skills while gaining awareness of evidence bases related to perioperative care. The module extends the induction process and familiarises you with requirements for university study in Health and Well-Being via learning activities and engagement with university services, including supporting ‘international students and non-native English speakers’ This module provides the base for further development in years 2 and 3. You will be assessed via an essay and PDP course workbook.

Anaesthetic 1 (20 credits)

This module introduces you to the anaesthetic setting and your role in assisting the anaesthetist. The basic principles of perioperative anaesthetic care and associated subject content will be identified including relevant equipment, underpinning pharmacology, anaesthesia techniques as well as the assessment, planning and implementation of patient care. You will be assessed via a 2-hour unseen examination and an anaesthetic written workbook.

Clinical Skills 1 (40 credits)

The aim of this module is to support practice learning and help you to further develop knowledge and skills for safe and effective perioperative care. You will be assessed via a Practice Assessment Document (PAD) which incorporates a requirement to reflect on their Anaesthetic, Surgery and ward experiences (this will be on a pass/fail grade).

Human Biology 1 (20 credits)

This module introduces you to the normal structure and function of the human body, in order to help them understand how principles of the human biology relate to normal activities of living. You will be assessed via A 2-hour unseen examination and course work book.

Surgery 1 (20 credits)

This module will provide you with a broad introduction to the fundamental surgical skills, principles and theoretical knowledge necessary for working within the sterile field. In addition to learning about the management of patients undergoing surgical intervention and individualised patient care, you will gain an understanding of the principles of asepsis, infection control and the importance of maintaining homeostasis. The aim of this module is to introduce you to your role and responsibilities as a scrub practitioner. You will be assessed via an essay related to a minor/intermediate surgical procedure utilising evidence-based practice in surgery in relation to safe perioperative practice and written course workbook.

How you'll learn

The academic year runs from September until August each year and is divided in to three 15-week trimesters. During each trimester, you will have three taught weeks at University (thus meeting the 20% requirement ‘off the job training’). You can usually expect to be in university for up to 5 days during each of these university weeks. The remainder of your time will be spent in the Operating Department of your workplace where you will experience a wide range of anaesthetic and surgical interventions. However, in order to develop a wider understanding of the health care setting and the needs of patients, your employer may require you to attend other settings such as a ward area, A&E/ITU or HDU. In some instances, your workplace will not be able to provide clinical experience of all the required specialities you will need. In this instance, you may need to travel to another clinical setting, within the same trust or at an alternative site. This will be arranged on an individual basis, according to the experiences that need to be gained at an external site. When not attending University, you will be expected to complete the normal working week of your employer (usually a 37½ hour week). This will include early shifts, late shifts and as you progress will also include weekends and night shifts. The exact pattern will depend on the working practices of your employer.

Your feedback is important to us and learning and teaching strategies will involve you as an active participant in the quality assurance and enhancement of the programme. The aim of the programme is to be stimulating in our subject delivery using the evidence base of practice and to maximise your learning potential throughout. Ultimately, you will become self-directed in your studies and take responsibility for being an independent learner. Although most of the learning will take place in the workplace, a minimum of 20% of your time will be spent on ‘off the job training’(OJT), during which you will be taught through the use of lectures, seminars, group discussion, and reflection using experiences from clinical practice. You will be supported with tutorials as well as seminars with focussed discussion linking theory to practice, and self-directed study via and the virtual learning environment which will provide additional resources such as power point presentations, evidence-based materials, web links and audio-visual aids. The taught programme will also be using a ‘flipped learning’ approach for some of the modules where you will be given topics to explore as directed study which are then discussed in depth with lecturers in University, creating rich learning opportunities and making the most of classroom time. A flipped classroom approach involves you being provided with learning resources to use at any time outside of the classroom. This material will include such resources as narrated powerpoints, lecture capture, podcasts, online books and articles and short tests and quizzes. This style of learning will equip you with the skills of enquiry that you will need for a lifelong career of learning as well as allowing you the flexibility to learn at your own pace when and where you wish. The virtual learning environment (VLE), is used extensively to support your learning by providing resources and activities such as discussion boards and guided reflection as well as being a repository for programme related information.

Blended learning (understood as the integration of face-to-face and online learning opportunities) will be featured, with extensive provision of digital resources to augment content delivery sessions. Digital media will be used to enhance group work and personal reflection on the learning journey (for instance through the use of blogs as a mode of assessment and learning, a programme such as Pebblepad to manage apprentice self-learning).

Clinical skills to help develop your practice competence will be taught in our Simulation suite, where we have a state-of-the-art teaching facility for healthcare professionals. These includes a fully equipped simulated operating theatre and scrub room, both of which enable you to integrate theory and clinical practice learning. This will enable you to gain the appropriate perioperative clinical skills in a safe and controlled environment. The clinical placements will facilitate practice learning to support the clinical skills required to meet the module competences. Integration of theoretical and practice learning will ensure you understand the relationship between theoretical knowledge, evidence-based practice and safe clinical professional practice in preparation for your transition through the course.

At the beginning of the programme, you will be allocated a personal academic tutor who is a member of university teaching staff. They will provide regular tutorial support during the programme. The same personal academic tutor may also be your link tutor when you are in clinical practice but if not, you will also have a link tutor assigned to the practice learning area.

The learning and teaching strategies will involve you as an active participant in the quality assurance and enhancement of the course. The aim of the course is to be stimulating and evidence based in its delivery therefore maximising your learning potential.

You will complete work-books at your own pace and will be encouraged to appraise and manage their development producing a personal development plan. Learning is encouraged via electronic packages and self-directed study is introduced with both peer and tutor feedback to foster a cohesive, interactive learning cohort equipped with interpersonal feedback skills preparing you for communication both as practitioners and in the wider environment while fostering the concept of lifelong learning and managing own development. You will have experience of lectures, seminars, group work and technology-enhanced learning throughout the programme. You will be introduced to models and tools for reflective practice and encouraged toward regular shared e-reflection via an electronic blog and practice supervision. Ultimately, you will become self-directed in your studies and take responsibility for being an independent learner.

The programme team believe that the most appropriate way for ODP apprentices to develop a sound knowledge base and practical expertise, is through a facilitative education approach. The apprenticeship aims to stimulate self-directed learning, develop and encourage critical analysis and promote reflective practice. This is in keeping with the philosophy that apprentices will learn most effectively if allowed to take responsibility for their own learning and make contributions from their own experience. The theoretical component draws on the latest practice developments, analysing these in light of research and evidence-based practice. The programme team endorse the need for interprofessional education and will create opportunities to work with other staff and apprentices within the Faculty and wider university.

All theory components of every module must be passed, all practice competencies must be achieved and all placement hours must be completed in order to successfully progress to the next year and level of study. You must also sign a declaration of suitability each year to say you are of good health and good character.

You can usually expect to be in university up to 5 days every week when engaging with your 20% off the job training. This usually equates to 3 weeks in every 15-week trimester.

 You will adhere to the normal working pattern of your employer which, during the course of the apprenticeship, may include a variety of shifts including weekends, nights, early and late shifts to provide clinical experience that supports the complexity of the level of study. You will need to complete a minimum of 900 hours each year in the apprentice ODP role. This equates to 2700 hours over three years plus approximately 300 hours in the first trimester of the fourth year while you are preparing for the end-point assessment. This equates to the practice hours achieved by you on the direct entry undergraduate programme and demonstrates parity between the routes through the programme. The hours completed for each shift are recorded in the attendance hours record within the PAD and verified by the mentor as part of the supervision process. If you miss 4 weeks or more of placement, for whatever reason, including a delay in disclosure and barring scheme (DBS) or occupational health clearance, you will be required to have an interview with the programme director and your employer to discuss whether you need to interrupt your studies and re-join at an appropriate point the following year.

All staff involved in the teaching of this programme are registered professionals and are experienced teachers, either currently involved in research or delivering research informed teaching. Within the ODP team three of five staff are senior lecturers and have engaged with research to Masters Level. One is currently completing his PhD research studies. Other roles adopted by staff include peer reviewer for national professional journals, external examiner and professional reviewers at other Universities. They are research-active, and have experience in delivering research-informed teaching. The programme also utilises the experience of expert practitioners including consultant anaesthetists, Surgical Care Practitioners and surgeons as well as the expertise of other professions within the university such as nurses and paramedics. A member of the teaching team has been awarded the Fellowship from the College of Operating Department Practitioners for services to the profession.


To meet the different learning styles of apprentices and to align with the module content, a variety of assessment methods are used within the modules for each year. Your understanding of theory will be assessed in a variety of ways and different formats such as; essays, case studies, exams, written coursework (workbooks), online assessments, and presentations. You will also be encouraged to keep a reflective log of your time as an apprentice to demonstrate your progress and development on the programme. The practice elements of modules are assessed in clinical practice by Practice Educators and other staff with a relevant professional background. Practice modules are assessed on a pass/fail basis and are detailed in Practice Assessment Document (PAD). You will need to pass every module to pass each year and the programme as well as the gateway requirements identified to be put forward by your employer for the end-point assessment (EPA).

The ‘Safe Medicate’ software package is utilised within the ODP pathway. This is an online medication dosage calculation package that develops and assesses your numeracy skills. The package enables you to develop numeracy skills from the most basic level to more complex calculations whilst ensuring application to practice. You will be required to produce evidence of engagement with the software test at the end of year 2 (level 5) (90% pass mark) and at the end of year 3 (level 6) (100% pass mark). This will need to be completed in class although you will be entitled to access the software as often as you want to throughout the year. You will be given a username and password at the start of year 2 of your programme.

To graduate you must achieve 360 credits (120 in years 1 and 2, 100 in year 3 plus the 20 credits associated with the EPA in year 4) and pass all practice. You will also receive an overall grade of Pass or Distinction for the apprenticeship and this is determined by the independent assessor following the end-point.

Professional accreditation

The Programme meets the requirements of the College of Operating Department Practitioners curriculum and is approved by the Health and Care Professions Council.

Successful completion of the Operating Department Practitioner degree apprenticeship gives you eligibility to apply for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council as an Operating Department Practitioner (ODP). Newly qualified operating department practitioners typically start their careers on a band 5 (NHS) before progressing to higher bands following professional development and experience over a period.

More information

Full information on the apprenticeship standard:


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The Graham Care Group
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Medway Council
Pilgrims Hospices
The Royal Naval Benevolent Trust
Strode Park Foundation