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Finding balance as a student ODP

Sophie Cunningham

Faculty: Health, Medicine and Social Care
School: School of Allied Health and Social Care
Course: Operating Department Practice BSc (Hons)
Category: Allied and public health

28 November 2022

Finding the perfect work/life balance as an Operating Department Practice student can be challenging to say the least, but you’ll be pleased to hear that it is possible with a little practice.

Managing your time from the beginning of the trimester is probably one of the most important things you can do. As most of your time is spent in placement, it is important to start chipping away at your assignments as soon as possible.

Leaving your work until late in the trimester can mean you end up spending all your free time trying to get back on top of things, and it can leave you feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Speaking from experience, this is the last thing you want!

If you can actively plan to work on assignments and study at least one day a week, it leaves the rest of your time off to relax. Building a one day a week study day into your routine is a great way to make sure you are always on top of the academic workload.

If you feel that you are struggling with your assignments, you can also reach out to your personal tutor or the Study Skills Plus team.

One of the best things I ever did was to buy a diary. I had never used one before, but I don’t think I could have managed my time as well without it. I always try to plan and have a few dates with friends in every month, so I have things to look forward to.

Additionally, at the start of every week I try to plan what day I will dedicate to my university work and what elements of the assignment I’m going to focus on. It will allow you to keep track of where you need to be and when, whilst making sure you are making time for both university work and your own personal time.

Financial worries are something that can affect all students, but being an ODP student can limit the amount of time you have available to work. However, there are lots of part-time options out there which can help to add a bit of income.

ARU Temps is a great option if you’re looking for casual work. I’ve been working as a Student Ambassador for quite some time now and it works perfectly. I get to choose the hours that work for me, and the work is enjoyable!

Some students do bank shifts at the hospital they’re placed in. This is a great option, as again you have flexibility in choosing your shifts and you can build on some of your clinical skills.

Signing up with companies such as Student Beans or UNiDAYS is a great way of getting student discounts and saving a bit of money! If you do need advice, the Money Advice Service at ARU offers relevant advice on student funding, budgeting, financial worries and more.

It’s important that if you are struggling or feel that you can’t cope, that you talk to someone and don’t suffer in silence. University is challenging and we all need a little extra support at times.

ARU have a Counselling and Wellbeing Service, which you can contact if you feel your mental wellbeing is suffering. They offer a range of services to support you, whether it be someone to talk to or someone who might be able to offer you advice. There is also some great advice online from charities like MIND.

Remember to go easy on yourself and don’t forget to keep up with hobbies and things you enjoy. Of course, it’s important to be on top on your assignments and strive to do well, but it is also important to continue enjoying the simple things! Spend time with and speak to other ODP students, we are all in the same boat and we can offer each other invaluable support.

Sophie studies BSc (Hons) Operating Department Practice at ARU. Find out more about this and other degree courses at one of our Open Days.


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.