Operating Department Practitioner (Student)

Service:Surface Fleet
Hands on
Operating Department Practitioners walking a patient in a stretcher

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. 

If you have questions, talk to us

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


  • Aged 17 and a half to 39
  • 112 UCAS points including Health and Social Care, Psychology, Social Science or Science subject at A-level or Level 3 equivalent
  • GCSE English Language or Literature, GCSE Maths and GCSE Science at grade C/4 or above
  • Evidence of academic study within the last 5 years
  • 2 weeks of clinical experience
  • Must be a British or Irish national, a Commonwealth citizen, or a Dual National
  • A Body Mass Index (BMI) between 18 and 28 (between 17 and 27 if under 18)
  • Pass the Naval Swimming Test

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

  • Defence Aptitude Assessment (DAA)

    You’ll be tested on: Verbal Reasoning, Numerical Reasoning, Work Rate, Spatial Reasoning, Electrical Comprehension and Mechanical Comprehension.
    To prepare, you can practise the DAA

  • Interview

    A formal interview to talk through your suitability for the role. This is normally conducted using your own device over the Shine video platform 

  • Candidate Preparation Course (CPC)

    This is a four-day induction to life in the Royal Navy, which is a pass or fail course. This will include:  

    - Pre-Joining fitness test  
    - Swimming test  
    - Medical test  

  • 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.