More than 40 Walsall medical students scored a visit to Walsall FC’s Poundland Bescot Stadium.
Third and fourth year students from the University of Birmingham, on placement at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, netted a bonding trip organised by Andy Tams, Undergraduate Medical Education Team (UMET) Manager and his colleagues.
Students enjoyed a pre-match drink at the Bradford Arms before a trip to the club shop where they brought replica shirts, hats and scarves, then it was on to watch the match with seats behind the goal in the Poundland Stand.
Unfortunately the Saddlers lost 2-0 to Milton Keynes Dons in the Papa Johns Trophy, but the students quickly got into the spirit of things – even joining in with the terrace chants!
“Thanks to the club – they had allocated us a section of seats together for £5 each,” said Andy. “Our students come from all over the country and for some it was the first time they had been to watch a football match. But they loved it, and started the singing off at one stage!
“They even started a Walsall bingo game, where they had to tick off different activities they’d done.”
Andy said the trip was well worthwhile, bringing the students together outside of a training and education environment into a more relaxed, social setting to get to know each other – and their tutors – better.
“This is the first hospital placement this group has had and it seems whatever we offer them, they can’t get enough of it because they want to get involved with everything!” said Andy.
“We try to do things like this as often as we can as it’s good for bonding. At their induction I ask if anyone has an interest in football and normally there are around half a dozen, but this time we had 44 put their hands up, which is the most we’ve taken to a game.
“Hopefully they can become future Saddlers fans but some said they were buying the shirts to send their dads back at home!”
The third years are on placement at Walsall for between 12 and 14 weeks, while the fourth years are with the Trust for nine weeks and they are clearly enjoying their time at the Trust.
“They have said if they didn’t have to leave, they’d like to spend their whole course here,” said Andy, who is planning another social outing next month. “It’s great for the Trust, and for the football club.”
Chloe Poole, a fourth year student from Enfield, North London, said: “The undergraduate teaching team go above and beyond for us – they go outside of their normal responsibility and you can tell they really care about us having a good time in Walsall.”
Sandeep Damaraju, from Chorley, Lancashire, is a new teaching fellow – one of the doctors that teaches the students. He said: “We want the students to have the best experience so we can get the best out of them and it was really cool to join them at the match.
“We are new to our jobs too in the undergraduate team so it helps us settle in. It breaks down any barriers because we are one big Walsall family.”
Teaching fellow Dr Sarah Brookes from Southport said: “This is the best job. The third years don’t know many people at first and it can be quite isolating so it’s good to get to know each other and after a while, they were asking lots of questions. Things like this help integrate them.”
Andy also thanked the Bradford Arms pub team for reserving a section of seats for the students and for its hospitality.