Medical and medical support

Operating Department Practitioner

As an Operating Department Practitioner (ODP) you will be an integral member of the theatre team providing peri-operative patient care. Just like a civilian fulfilling the same role you will be responsible for the smooth running of the operating theatre and its specialised equipment. You will also be expected to be multi-functional as part of the anaesthetic, scrub and recovery teams.

As a military ODP you will be expected to undertake periods of stand-by for high readiness contingency teams that support UK military operations worldwide. You may find yourself living in austere conditions working from a tented operating theatre to being at sea on a vessel. Your additional skills will include resuscitation, first surgical assistant and you may be utilised in the operation and management of the Sterile Services Department, reprocessing instruments and other re-usable medical devices.

Unlike most people in the RAF, you will probably move jobs infrequently, remaining at either Royal Centre for Defence Medicine (RCDM), located in Birmingham or at the Defence Medical Group North (DMG (N)) Northallerton and Defence Medical Group South West (DMG (SW)). In addition to working in the secondary health care environment there are opportunities to work in challenging bespoke roles with Medical Support Wing (MSW).

Typical Responsibilities:

  • Act as a multifunctional part of anaesthetic, scrub and recovery teams
  • Provide resuscitation and first surgical assistance
  • Reprocess instruments and other re-usable medical devices in the Sterile Services Department

Similar civilian roles include Operating Department Technician.

Royal Air Force - Regular & Reserve

RAF Regulars and Reserves work side by side.

Scroll down to explore the opportunities as an Operating Department Practitioner in the RAF.

Key Facts

Full Time

Initial pay after training

£18,489 + Benefits

Pay during training

£14,931 + Benefits

Entry level



12 years

In the RAF

My Role

‘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.’

My Day

‘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


Royal Air Force - Regular & Reserve

Full Time

Recruit Training

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.

Specialist Training

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 RCDM, in Birmingham, DMG(N) in Northallerton or DMG (SW) in Plymouth.

Your Future Career Prospects/Progression

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.

Transferable Skills

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.


Full Time

Job requirements


Unqualified: A minimum of 88 UCAS points is required. For criteria of eligible Level 3 qualifications please refer to the Birmingham City University website at or see Annex A.

In addition, the following Level 2 qualifications (or Irish Leaving Certificate/Scottish qualifications, and preferably a science subject): GCSE at Grade C/4-5 or above in English Language and Mathematics or SCE Standard Grade 2/Scottish National 5 in English and Mathematics

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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RAF Requirements

To join the RAF you will also need to meet fitness, health, nationality, residency, and other criteria detailed below.


Full Time