What an operating department practice degree apprenticeship involves

Operating department practice student Grant discusses how his time is divided between on-the-job and classroom-based learning, the importance of workload management and what helped him secure his degree apprenticeship with the NHS.

"A degree apprenticeship involves a combination of on-the-job learning as well as classroom-based learning. In the case of my apprenticeship, this is an 80 / 20 split.

"On-the-job training means I get exposure to multiple acute care environments, both in and out of operating theatres, where I can develop in my role. I can also participate in many additional learning opportunities to develop my skills as an operating department practitioner (ODP).

"In classroom-based learning, you are taught new information to build your understanding as a healthcare professional, giving you clinical and academic knowledge. You will be assessed through assignments and exams as any other university student would.

"A degree apprenticeship has no fees and you are paid a wage whilst you work that is agreed with your employer before starting your new role."

What employers want

"When applying for a degree apprenticeship, ensure you are aware of your academic capabilities. Employers will want you to have achieved a level 3 BTEC at DMM or an A level equivalent within the last five years in an appropriate science or healthcare course. In the case of an ODP apprentice, individuals need to have a passion for the perioperative practice. Ideally, with experience as a healthcare assistant inside the perioperative environment.

"Employers will be looking for focused and driven people who can self-motivate and prioritise responsibilities effectively. If you are not currently working in the area you wish to study, I would suggest completing some additional studies or applying for work experience. This will highlight your interest in your chosen subject to employers. In the case of my application, I was able to discuss the many development and shadowing experiences I had within multiple surgical specialities."

Top tip! Take up as many development and exposure opportunities as you can before completing your application. This can be done by speaking to your manager in your current role and asking to go and shadow those undertaking the position you wish to study.

The importance of self-management

"Degree apprenticeships have a demanding workload and it is important to have excellent time management skills so that you can manage and balance your work alongside university assignments. Both my workplace and the University are very open to discussing workload management and if the workload ever gets overwhelming, they are there to help.

"I often have to travel to multiple hospitals and university campuses in the same week, representing both the University and healthcare trust to the public and peers. Therefore, you will be expected to uphold the values of multiple institutions."

Skills development and resources

"The apprenticeship has made me reflect on every aspect of my practice. I now consider why I do things the way that I do and I am much more open to changes in how I undergo my duties. This makes me a much more well-rounded practitioner. I have utilised research and evidence to inform my learning and I have improved my emotional intelligence throughout my apprenticeship, helping me to better interact with peers and patients.

"You will need access to appropriate educational resources and devices such as books and laptops or computers. However, the University and your employer can also assist with this, with resources you can access like the library on campus.

"Upon completing my apprenticeship I will have a Bachelor of Science degree in operating department practice with honours."