Writtle University College and ARU have merged. Writtle’s full range of college, degree, postgraduate and short courses will still be delivered on the Writtle campus. See our guide to finding Writtle information on this site.

Operating Department Practice placements

Develop the confidence, attitudes and skills you need to work as an Operating Department Practitioner (ODP) in all areas of perioperative care including anaesthesia, surgery and recovery.

You’ll also gain the skills required to work in intensive care, A&E, transplants teams or patient transfer teams.

This is an exciting, fast-changing field with opportunities to work all over the world. As an Operating Department Practice (ODP) student you'll be offered a placement with one of our partnership hospitals in Cambridgeshire, Essex, or London:

  • Essex: Colchester, Basildon, Harlow, Southend, Broomfield, Springfield (all theory will be taught at Chelmsford)
  • Cambridgeshire: Addenbrooke's, Hinchingbrooke, Papworth, Peterborough, Kings Lynn (all theory will be taught at Cambridge)
  • London: Whittington, North Middlesex University Hospital, Newham University Hospital, Royal Free Hospital (all theory will be taught at Chelmsford).

All our students will follow a three-year placement schedule for the duration of the course covering the three main areas of theatres, anaesthesia, surgery and recovery, as well as critical care skills.

Placement overview

During your placement, you’ll work with surgeons, anaesthetists, registered Operating Department Practitioners, theatre nurses, healthcare support workers and many other individuals to complete competencies related to patient care in theatres.

You’ll be encouraged to be ‘hands-on’ from an early stage, participating in all aspects of patient care. You’ll care for patients from all backgrounds and of all ages, working in a range of specialist areas across the whole patient theatre journey, and you’ll be placed in the same hospital or hospital group for the three years of your course, allowing you to really get to know the department.

After a short introduction block at University, in your first year you’ll be in practice for an average of 24 hours every week across the academic year, which runs from early September to August. In your third year you won’t attend practice between June and August.

You’ll also attend University for a day a week during teaching time and have one day a week for private study.

Our course follows a modular approach where your learning in practice will be directly linked to what you are studying at University.

In practice you’ll be managed by a Practice Educator, and will be allocated named mentors with experience in the necessary placement areas.

Placements will be monitored by the Course Leader and link tutor who will visit you in practice twice per trimester to check on your progress.

During the first year of your course you will complete three practice modules. These will be a 13 week introduction module covering all aspects of the patient journey, a 16 week anaesthetics placement and a 14 week surgical placement.

There is one mandatory placement in your first year, which is laparoscopic surgery in your surgical placement, all other specialities will be dependent on your hospital, however you can expect to gain experience in:

  • Communication and working with all members of the theatre team
  • Patient communication and reassurance
  • Applying basic monitoring
  • Checking and preparing anaesthetic equipment for minor procedures
  • Basic airway management
  • Scrubbing for and circulating for minor procedures
  • Preparing a theatre and anaesthetic room for a patient
  • Safe patient positioning
  • Participation in the WHO Checklist
  • A, B, C, D, E assessments (Airway, Breathing, Circulation, Disability, Exposure)

During year two of your course you will complete a further three practice modules, which will consist of a 13 week anaesthetics placement, a 16 week surgical placement and a 14 week PACU placement.

Mandatory placements this year will include paediatric, shared airway, obstetric and emergency anaesthesia, obstetric and laparoscopic surgery, and paediatric and critical care PACU, again with other specialities dependent on your hospital.

This year aims to build on the skills achieved in your first year of study, achieving a ‘competent’ level of practice by the end of the year. As well as continuing to practice all the skills gained in your first year you will also gain experience in:

  • Beginning to take a leadership role
  • Assistance with application of advanced monitoring
  • Checking and preparation of basic and advanced anaesthetic equipment for intermediate and major procedures
  • Advanced airway management
  • Scrubbing for and circulating for intermediate and major procedures
  • Developing autonomy in preparation of theatre
  • Caring for patients with more complex physiological, psychological and sociological needs
  • Participating in the care of patients who may be critically unwell
  • Participating in the care of paediatric patients

During your third year of study you will complete one long practice module which runs from September to May. This module has been designed in close collaboration with local hospitals, and aims to consolidate your existing knowledge, and allow you to become proficient in practice ready to start your new job as a registered ODP.

The module covers all aspects of the theatre environment, as well as critical care, and you can be expected to continue to practice all the skills gained in your first two years as well as gaining enhanced experience in:

  • Team leadership
  • Communication with the multidisciplinary team
  • Communication with the patient
  • Professional autonomy
  • Anaesthetics, surgery and PACU
  • Patient transfers
  • Critical care