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Comparing careers in NHS

Free essay example:

LO1: Understand the variety of opportunities available in H.E.

1B – Research your chosen career (s) and provide a summary of: the main job content, progression routes, and entry requirements.

Operating Department Practitioner (ODP) is where my main interest lies due to the variety in the work and departments in which I would be able to work, and the technicality involved.  The main aspects of the role are split into three areas:

Anaesthetic Practise                This involves working within a team of      

health professionals to assess and support a patient prior to anaesthesia.  The preparation of specialist equipment and drugs for use during surgery, which may include ventilators and intravenous equipment.  The care and support for the patient’s family is also involved.

Surgical Practise                            This involves a number of roles, including

                                        the ‘scrubbed’ role – preparing equipment

                                        and instruments for surgery, accounting for

                                        materials throughout procedure, wound

                                        management and infection control.  

A circulating role liaising between surgical

                                        teams and other parts of the operating

                                        theatre and hospital, using communication

                                        and management skills.

Recovery Practise                          This involves working within a multi

professional team, taking responsibility for the care of the patient until they have recovered from the effects of surgery / anaesthesia.  Monitoring and assessing the patient’s physiological parameters and providing appropriate interventions and prescribed treatments as required.

ODP play a vital role within the clinical team , and there are new opportunities developing within the NHS providing greater variety such as community based – at local GP surgeries, walk in clinics.

The ability to be able to work as part of a team, be extremely organised, ability to work under pressure and think on your feet, are a few of the personal qualities which are required in a person to become an ODP, due to the nature of the role.

Entry routes into this career consist of successful completion of the DipHE Operating Department practise, then registration with the Health Professions Council and Membership of the college of Operating Department Practitioners.  

Applications for the DipHE ODP are to be made through UCAS, and the minimum entry requirements are as follows:

GCSE (A – C) in English, Maths and a Science

Then either:

A minimum of 160 UCAS Tariff points (equivalent of two C grades – full A Level), which can include a combination of A and AS levels.


BTEC or Access to HE.  Access applicants must achieve a minimum of 45 credits at level 3 to include science and health related units.

There is an option after successful completion of the DipHE to progress to a degree by completing a further year (BSc (Hons)).  I am not sure which universities offer this additional year but I have sent an email to the College of Operating Department Practitioners and they emailed back a list of universities although I need to phone them and see if they offer the additional year, as they seem to concentrate more on the preliminary 2 year diploma course, as that is required first.  I would imagine that it would depend on the interest in the additional year as not every one would want to study for the extra year as they are still qualified after the first 2 years.

Other progression routes once qualified and registered consist of more senior roles, leading ODP teams in theatre, or specialising in an area such as transplants or baby care.  There are also opportunities to progress further possibly undertaking further education to become an anaesthetist.

The ODP position is an ideal course and career for me as I have a lot of transferable skills from my time working as a Quantity Surveyor as I was constantly working under pressure, working and problem solving on the job, working within a large team which consisted of managers, clients, manual operatives and many other professionals.  From this role I also became very organised and punctual, my communication skills also improved.  I thrive when put under pressure so it would be an ideal position for me.   When I was 17 years old I worked as a trainee veterinary nurse, in which I was introduced to surgical procedures, such as tubing the animals and attaching to a ventilator, taking bloods and inserting an intravenous line, these are all skills which I can transfer to working as an ODP as they are basic surgical skills although they were on animals and not people.

Radiography is another area of interest to me due to the technical work involved.  There are two different roles within the title ‘Radiographer’, they are as follows:

Diagnostic Radiographer                This involves using a range of techniques to

Provide the images required to treat and diagnose the patients.  Examples are Ultrasound for the monitoring of a foetus’ development and growth within the womb, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan to detect blood clots on the brain, or joint problems.  The radiographer would have interaction with the patient, putting them at ease and positioning them correctly, then taking the images and return the results to the doctor or healthcare staff for viewing.

Within this role you would mainly be based at a hospital, although with the introduction of mobile screenings you could be based within one of the mobile teams.

Therapeutic Radiographer        This involves working along side the doctors, nurses and other clinicians in planning and delivering radiation treatment, targeting the site of the disease.  The medical team will turn to the radiographer for their specialist knowledge on how best to provide the treatment.  Also the ability to reassure the patient and clearly explain the procedures to them.

        The radiographer will also be involved in assessing the progress of the treatment and therapy.  They work as part of a team attached to the hospital radiology department.

Radiography is most of the most important tools in modern medicine. It enables

diagnosis and assessment which would otherwise be impossible.  It also provides

live-saving treatments in cancers and tissue disease.  Radiographers have the

technical expertise and understanding to use these advancing technologies to best


Willingness to continue learning, accuracy and care with your work, sympathetic and

good communication skills are essential skills for undertaking a role as a


Entry routes into this career consist of successful completion of a course of study and

training recognised by the HPC (Health Professions Council), such a BSc degree in

diagnostic or therapeutic radiography, or a post-graduate diploma or MSc if you hold

a relevant science degree.

General entry requirements for the BSc (Hons) Medical Imaging at Exeter are as


3 A levels minimum grades B C C (science based I would imagine although not specified on UCAS web site)

Access to HE science at a pass (45 points at level 3)

In addition to academic requirements a minimum of one weeks work experience must

be undertaken at an imaging department, and a standard CRB (Criminal Records

Bureau) check to be carried out and a full health assessment.

Progression within this field refers to a more supervisory role, or management role,

which can be undertaken through further studies and / or experience.

Radiography would be an interesting career, and as with the ODP I have a lot of

transferable skills which could be applied within the role of a radiographer, I have

taken x-rays of animals whilst working as a trainee veterinary nurse, and also used

an ultrasound on an animal whilst they were pregnant as the dog was in distress.

I would be required to do a further A Level or course in either physics or chemistry, to

enable me to apply for the degree course. Although I am not as interested as I am in

the ODP as I would need to firstly do additional science qualifications so I would

qualify for the course and also the course is based in Exeter which would involve

more travel which would make it more expensive for me both with travel and

childcare as I would need to find a nursery who would start early in the morning to

enable me to get to university on time.

Finances for both courses, the NHS would pay the University tutoring fees, and on

the ODP course I would be entitled to a non-means tested bursary for the duration of

the course at the NHS rates for the year which consist of many elements such as

dependants, childcare, spouse allowance, second home allowance, these vary each

year.  On the Degree courses you are entitled to apply for a means tested bursary

which is based on the income coming into the household where you live.  There are

also additional allowances as the practical on site training extends the university

academic year, these are worked out by the NHS bursary department.

Looking at the information which I have gathered I think I have got a good

understanding of what each course / career involves, I believe I could have gathered

further information by attending the open day, but I was unable to unfortunately,

although I have phoned and spoken to the Health and Care faculty at the university

and they have been very helpful in answering many of my queries.

I will continue to gather further information and I have written a letter to Derriford

Hospital asking if it would be possible for me to either do some voluntary work within

one of the theatre teams, or at least arrange a time to go in and speak to a qualified

ODP and have a tour round the theatres.  I am hoping to receive a letter back from

them within the next few weeks.

I think I possibly could have looked further into the development possibilities of both

roles and the progression routes available as the material I have gathered has

limited information.

I could have phoned NHS Careers and spoken to a careers advisor, rather than just request the leaflets and booklets. There are many other methods I could have used for research, such as arranging to speak with an ODP at the hospital, but I feel I have gathered enough for me to make my decision as to which career route I want to take and which is more suitable for me.

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