In the RAF
‘Operating Department Practitioners train in all the different aspects of surgery so that we can assist in theatre. We’re responsible for all the instruments used during an operation, we work in the recovery room afterwards and we’re also part of the resuscitation team. I’ve done the plaster course for applying casts and I’m also down to do two keyhole surgery courses.’
‘I’m based at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, where my hours are seven in the morning till half past one, with on-call rotas, which is when you’re bleeped if there’s an emergency such as a traffic accident.
It’s a really good working atmosphere, and that makes all the difference. Any job can be hard work and stressful but we know when to be serious and when to have fun.’
‘It’s a good life in the RAF – it’s what you make it. A lot of people sit back and let life pass them by. But in the air force, you get such great opportunities – and if the opportunities are there, why not take them?’
Caroline, Operating Department Practitioner
Your career will start with a 10 week Basic Recruit Training Course (BRTC) at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire. The course is designed to help you adjust to a military environment. As well as fitness and military training, you’ll also learn about the RAF lifestyle.
If you are joining with a professional qualification recognised by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) you will, following completion of RTS, be posted into your first Unit. If you are joining with appropriate A-levels/Higher grade or equivalent your specialist training will start with a 2-year Diploma in Higher Education in Peri-Operative Practice at the Defence School of Health Education at the Birmingham City University. This 106 week course will incorporate both theory and practical placements at the university and local hospitals. Additional Qualification Opportunities You can complete further modules through the Defence School of Health Education to gain your BSc (Hons) Defence Health Care Studies.
Ongoing Training/Development Opportunities
There are many opportunities to develop and broaden your skills from First Surgical Assistant to Advanced Life Support provider and instructor.
Your First Tour
This will be at either the Royal Centre of Defence Medicine (RCDM), in Birmingham or at the Ministry of Defence Hospital Unit Peterborough (MDHU(P)).
Your Future Career Prospects/Progression
You will initially join the RAF for a period of twelve years on a Notice Engagement with effect from 1 April 2015. After completing one year’s total service and graduating from your training course you will be eligible for promotion to Senior Aircraftman Technician. Qualified entrants are promoted to Senior Aircraft Technician backdated to their second day in service. Further promotion to the rank of corporal and sergeant is on a time promotion basis.
If in the future you wish to leave the Service your experience, further clinical training and managerial dexterity will make you highly competitive within the civilian job market.
Unqualified: Candidates must have Grade C or above in English Language and Mathematics (or equivalent) and a minimum of 220 UCAS points at A Level or equivalent. It is important to check the Birmingham City University website for current entry requirements.
Qualified: Candidates must hold a qualification recognised by the HCPC such as DipHE Operating Department Practice or BSc (Hons) Operating Department Practice.
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To join the RAF you will also need to meet fitness, health, nationality, residency, and other criteria detailed below.