Preparing for placement in the operating theatre


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

11 October 2019

Operating Department Practice student Lauren discusses her experiences on placement in the operating theatre, and how you can prepare for it.

Starting placement is often a mixture of emotions. I was really eager and excited to learn, but at the same time frightened about what I might see and how I would react. Everyone prepares differently, but I thought I’d share my advice on how to settle into placement.

All in the planning

First of all, make sure you're organised! Find out about your hospital's staff parking or bus timetables to save stressing out about it, and get yourself into a routine.

I find having my bag/lunch ready the night before makes such a big difference to my mornings, as I'm not running around at 6.30am trying to find everything I need!

I try to get to placement around half an hour before I start, as this gives me enough time to grab a coffee and have a chat.

It is really important that you have plenty to eat and drink for your shift. I work 7.30am-6pm, so it is a pretty long shift and can be very busy. You need to keep yourself fuelled!

At my placement I have shops where I can buy lunch, but I only have 30 minutes and, to be honest, you don't want to waste your time queuing. I'd recommend a packed lunch! (Plus you'll save yourself a fortune)

No need to be afraid

It can be really nerve-wracking starting placement. Theatres can be very busy with many people in them, so if you are unsure of where you should stand or what you can do to help, just remember to ask. People will be more than happy to help you.

The best advice I can give is to just get stuck in, and if you are offered an opportunity to do something by your mentor, give it a go! They are fantastic teachers and will be with you every step of the way.

Don't be afraid to say if you are unsure if you're allowed to perform a task that has been asked of you, or if you don't know what to do. I always think to myself that everyone was a student and new once, and they will have had the exact same worries as you do.

You're not alone

Whilst at placement, you may find yourself in upsetting situations. It's hard for me to tell you how to deal with it best, as we all deal with these things in our own way.

All I can say is that when you do witness or are involved in a situation that affects you, there is plenty of support available to you.

A debrief is held after a difficult event such as the death of a patient, where everyone involved can talk through what happened. Your mentors will be there to support you and guide you through.

You can also speak to your tutors, and there is a Counselling and Wellbeing Service at the University, which is free.

Placement gives you the opportunity to learn so many different new skills. Even though it doesn't always feel like it, you have a big impact on your patients. Being a student ODP is so rewarding, so go and enjoy yourself. Take every opportunity you can get. Good luck!

Lauren studies Operating Department Practice at ARU in Chelmsford. 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.