Operating Department Practitioner (Student)

Service:Surface Fleet
Hands on

The role at a glance

What you’ll do

Saving the lives of the people who risk theirs. That’s what you’ll be doing when you qualify as an ODP in the Royal Navy. As soon as you’ve finished your fully-funded ODP Diploma, you’ll become an essential part of the surgical team, tackling all aspects of the operating theatre and developing skills that will stay with you for life. And you’ll work all over the world in some of the most challenging environments imaginable too. 

Your role

  • Gain your qualifications and then use your expertise where it’s needed most – from treating trauma patients during a humanitarian crisis, to providing surgical treatment at an NHS hospital
  • Provide crucial, lifesaving medical support in situations that can be demanding and sometimes dangerous
  • Benefit from experience in a wide range of disciplines, including becoming qualified as a Sterile Services Manager and Surgical First Assistant
  • Be part of a world-class medical service that’s respected far beyond the Armed Forces

What you’ll get

Skills for life

Qualifications you'll gain

  • An Operating Department Practitioner Diploma
  • Specialist vocational qualifications as your career progresses

Skills you'll develop

  • How to provide support for surgical teams and save lives in challenging environments
  • Gain training and skills in leadership and management throughout your career

Career progression

What you'll need


  • If you take your A-levels after the start of 2017, you need 88 UCAS points including two non-overlapping subject areas
  • If you take your GCSEs after the start of 2017, you need 3 grades 9 – 4 including English Language Maths and Science; before 2017, you need 2 grades A* – C (In the interview a good standard of English and a reference is required)
  • Evidence of academic study within the last 5 years
  • 2 weeks of clinical experience
  • You must be aged 17 and a half to 39
  • You need to be a minimum height of 151.5cm and within the healthy range for Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • You must be a British or Irish national, a Commonwealth citizen who has lived in the UK continuously for the 5 years prior to applying, or a dual national

Skills and interests

  • A technical thinker
  • An aptitude for the clinical environment
  • A team player
  • An adventurous spirit
  • Able to stay positive in the face of adversity

Check Eligibility

Check Eligibility

Starting your career

Joining process

Once you’ve confirmed your eligibility, the joining process is as follows:

  • Submit an application

    Once you’ve registered your interest and have satisfied the basic eligibility criteria, you will be sent an online application form

  • Naval Service Recruitment Test (NRST)

    You’ll be tested on general reasoning, verbal ability, numeracy and mechanical comprehension

  • Interview

    A formal interview to talk through your suitability for the role

  • Medical and eye tests

    These are quite comprehensive and must be completed by one of our Ministry of Defence-approved doctors

  • Pre-Joining Fitness Test (PJFT)

    This involves completing a 2.4km run on a treadmill within a certain time, at a fitness centre near you

  • Pre Royal Navy Course (PRNC)

    This four-day induction to life in the Royal Navy is a pass or fail course

  • Start training

    Once you’ve passed a Security Check, you’ll be offered a place at HMS Raleigh

Initial training

Your Royal Navy career begins with 10 weeks’ basic training at HMS Raleigh, a shore base in Torpoint, Cornwall. The discipline, teamwork, organisational, firefighting and weapon handling skills you learn here will stay with you right through your career.

Aim to get yourself as fit as possible before you arrive. You’ll be doing a lot of physical exercise, and you’ll find it much easier if you’re already in shape. There’s also a swimming test, so if you can’t swim, make sure you learn by the time you join us.

Professional training

Once you’ve finished your diploma, you’ll be a Qualified Operating Practitioner and will join a Defence Medical Group (DMG) in Portsmouth, Plymouth or Birmingham. There you will start a rotation to put into practice all you have learnt.  You will - gain clinical experience over a number of clinical areas, airway management, scrub and recovery.  All to harness your skills ready for deployment. As you progress you will also extend your management role and take charge of the equipment and its maintenance, including gaining a qualificaiton in sterilisation.