- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 18, 2004

The 161 fourth-year students at Georgetown University School of Medicine breathed a sigh of relief on “Match Day” yesterday after learning their residency assignments for next year.

The future doctors participated in a national program that places students in hospitals to continue their medical training in more specialized fields.

For many students, Match Day is more important than graduation.

“Graduation is a wonderful ceremony, but Match Day says it all,” said Dr. Ray Mitchell, dean of medical education. “It represents the culmination of four years of hard work at this school.”

When participating in the match program, students list their first, second and third choices for residency. More than 60 percent of students get their first choice, and 85 percent are admitted to one of their three choices, said a press release from the university.

Meghan Ryall, 26, was hoping for Ventura County Medical Center in California because of its family medicine program. “I feel like it will give me a really good education and it’s a good community,” she said.

Dr. Mitchell stood before the packed room and addressed his audience of anxious students. He joked that reaching graduation in a month will be easy compared with Match Day. “The rest of it after today is gravy,” he said to cheers and applause.

Sealed envelopes were distributed to each student by name, but weren’t opened until Dr. Mitchell gave the word.

Kevin Curran, 25, held up his envelope to the light, trying to get a sneak peek. He was hoping for the New England Medical Center’s Boston Floating Hospital for Children. “I’m from Massachusetts, and the Red Sox will be nearby,” he said.

Dr. Mitchell began the countdown. “Ten,” he said into a microphone.

“Five,” the crowd shouted back, cutting the countdown in half.

Miss Ryall tore open her letter on “one” and screamed, hugging the woman next to her. “I got Ventura,” she shouted to a friend a few rows back.

The match program is the subject of a lawsuit filed in the District by three doctors who claim it discourages competition and results in lower benefits for residents.

“It could probably use some revision,” said Mr. Curran. Even though he got his top choice, he said, he felt the process placed undue pressure on students. “It’s tough; for three years you’re locked [into a residency].”

Students who got their second choices were not disappointed. Heather Yeo, 27, was passing a bottle of champagne to her friend Karen Boselli, 25.

Miss Yeo was accepted to her second choice: Yale. “I’m so excited,” she said, looking forward to Yale’s general surgery program. “There’s not much cooler than being able to open someone up and fix them.”

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