After graduating from Keele’s School of Medicine in 2013, 31-year-old Matthew Lancett from Stoke on Trent worked in the NHS for a number of years before branching out into sports medicine. After stints locally with Port Vale and Stoke City, he’s now scored a job as the Assistant Team Doctor for Manchester United. Here he talks about his career in medicine, and how Keele prepared him for life at Old Trafford.

Keele was always going to be an option for me as my local university, and I have really fond memories of Keele and the campus life, living on a large campus with a great group of friends that I met along the way. After leaving Keele I worked at the Royal Stoke Hospital, where I did my foundation training. Shortly afterwards I started training as a GP, but along the way and shortly after I qualified, one of my supervisors asked what I wanted to do. I mentioned sports medicine, and it turned out one of the clinicians at Royal Stoke was the team doctor at Port Vale. He took me under his wing and helped me to learn all about the role, and to do the relevant specialist courses, and things just progressed from there.

I started covering at Port Vale, and ended up covering the occasional Stoke City academy game. I became part of the team at Stoke working part time there alongside part time GP work, before starting full-time at Stoke in January 2020, working with the first team. I was the Covid-19 medical officer at Stoke, dealing with regulations and risk assessments and leading on education. This was a challenge as despite the restrictions we had to keep the players fit, but also adhere to regulations to make sure everything was safe while we were operational. Then in January 2022, I started my current position at Assistant Team Doctor at Manchester United.

My role at United is primarily with the under-18s team at home and away games, and occasionally the under-23s as well, as well as helping out with the First Team when required. Day to day I will be carrying out assessments of any injured or ill players, as well as doing some bits of research as well. During late afternoons and evenings we also get younger age groups coming in from training for specialist injury clinics, and we’re helping players from a vast range of age groups.

Towards the end of my time with Keele we had to choose an elective module, and it was only then that I started to consider sports medicine as a specialism. Keele also has a careers day which gives students the chance to learn more about different specialisms, where I now do a presentation about sports medicine, so it’s great that there is scope for learning about the different fields you can go into.

For any medical students who are unsure about their career, the best thing I could say is that there’s always time. It’s one of those courses where you do not have to fit into a specialism straight away, I didn’t decide on sports medicine until right at the end. There are some people who know what they want to do from day one, but sometimes one experience through your course our training will shape whatever career it is you end up wanting to go into. My advice would be to not rush your decision, there is always time to decide. Expose yourself to all areas of medicine and find out what you enjoy, do not limit yourself to a speciality too early.

For those students who are considering medicine, I know I was fortunate enough to have a few different placements before deciding to apply. I think the vast majority of doctors are happy to accommodate students if they are prepared to ask, it’s all about being proactive. If you’re considering a certain speciality, go and spend some time in that environment by reaching out to clinicians and specialists, and make sure that it’s the right thing for you.

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Study at the same school as Matthew

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*Guardian University League Table, 2022