Spotlight on Operating Department Practitioner Nathan Ellis

Today (Sunday 14 May) is Operating Department Practitioners awareness day, an opportunity to celebrate this profession and to find out more about it.

ODPs support the multi-disciplinary team to help deliver perioperative care in all kinds of surgery within our hospital. We spoke to Nathan Ellis, Operating Department Practitioner Student Lead, to learn more about his role.

“I chose to train as an ODP as the role looked incredibly interesting. I was a Theatre Support Worker beforehand which gave me a great insight into what the role is about, and I knew quickly it was the profession for me,” said Nathan.

“A day as an ODP follows the typical cliché of ‘no two days are the same’ and that is what it makes it so appealing. Most often, ODPs are found within main theatres and they specialise in anaesthetic care, surgical care and post-operative recovery.

“We are responsible for ensuring all anaesthetic equipment prior to the patient arrival is safe and ready, for example the surgical instruments must be sterile.

“The most interesting aspects we face is responding to emergency and life-threatening situations. Being part of the team saving somebody’s life is hugely rewarding.

“What is also exciting is how we can now work in many different aspects of care. We can be found in Intensive Care, with the Recognise and Respond team, and in Education, Cardiology and other departments.

“We also work autonomously providing one-to-one patient care for those recovering from their surgeries.

“I have worked in general, thoracic and vascular theatres before moving into Practice Development and Education. Now I support students in all aspects of their training and aim to work closely alongside higher education institutions to expand our placement opportunities, making student training more rewarding and fulfilling. We currently have around 20 student ODP, some via our apprentice programme, others via the UEA.

“It is an exciting time to be an ODP and I’d encourage anybody who may be considering a career in healthcare to look into this. In partnership with Anglia Ruskin University we offer the apprentice programme which is a route for colleagues to undertake their training with financial support and to obtain a degree in Operating Department Practice. People can also apply via the UEA to train and have placements within Main Theatres and other areas.

“Of course, caring for vulnerable patients and those most in need is challenging, but as a team we always strive to provide the best possible care and treat all our patients with the respect they deserve.

“ODPs are still relatively unknown to the wider public but hopefully in my new role I can increase its popularity and highlight the exceptional work that we carry out.”

  • If you’d like to know more about starting a career as ODP, please contact Nathan via email (

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