Swipe right: UA medical students meet their match for residency programs

PHOENIX – The countdown ended.

Phoebe Chang, a fourth-year medical student at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix, wearing a tight grin, ripped open the ribbon on a box holding her future.

Blue and red balloons were attached to a gold satchel that contained the news of where she will spend the next four years of her residency. Chang opened the satchel, gasped – then turned to hugged her family.

She got her first choice: Emergency care at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

“I love emergency medicine because I love the variety,” Chang said. “I get to take care of anyone who walks through the door, the emergencies and not-so-much emergencies.”

Chang’s was one of 80 boxes arranged around the perimeter of the courtyard at the college’s Phoenix campus on Friday morning. Other med students erupted as they got their own news on Match Day, named after the matchup between a graduating medical student and the medical program where they will spend their residency. The annual ritual happens at medical schools at the same time all across the country, after five months of filling out applications and flying around the country to be interviewed as students narrow and submit their choices for residency programs, according to the university website.

“Oh my God!” students around Chang shouted as they read their results. “No way!”

Before the countdown, first-, second- and third-year medical students give a surprise performance for Match Day 2018. (Photo by Daria Kadovik/Cronkite News)

The UA med students were among thousands across the country who found out their residency program results at the same time: the third Friday in March. (Photo by Daria Kadovik/Cronkite News)

Students, friends and families eagerly await the countdown to open boxes containing their residency program information. (Photo by Daria Kadovik/Cronkite News)

Bracketed by her family, Phoebe Chang opens her envelope. (Photo by Daria Kadovik/Cronkite News)

Chang got her first choice: the Emergency Medicine Program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee. (Photo by Daria Kadovik/Cronkite News)

Chang says medical school was the best time of her life. She loves emergency medicine because of the variety and opportunity to take care of anyone who walks through the door. (Photo by Daria Kadovik/Cronkite News)

After opening their envelopes, students share with their classmates, hugging, crying and congratulating each other. (Photo by Daria Kadovik/Cronkite News)

The match process takes nearly half a year, as students interview with program directors, faculty and residents to determine their choices among residencies around the nation. (Photo by Daria Kadovik/Cronkite News)

Catherine Hermann and Andrew Albert, who have been a couple for four and a half years and are getting married soon, are going to Pennsylvania for their residencies. He’s pursuing emergency medicine; she’s focusing on obstetrics and gynecology. (Photo by Daria Kadovik/Cronkite News)

Chang says the people at Vanderbilt were amazing during her interview process. She is excited to move to Nashville, Tennessee, to start her residency. (Photo by Daria Kadovik/Cronkite News)

Chang says she might join a fellowship – additional specialty training – in the future but first plans on getting good residency training. (Photo by Daria Kadovik/Cronkite News)

Of the 2018 class of the College of Medicine-Phoenix, 35 percent will be going into primary care fields, while the rest will be pursuing specialties across the country. (Photo by Daria Kadovik/Cronkite News)

The UA College of Medicine announces Match Day results differently every year. In the past, 25-foot banners, zip lines and balloons have delivered the results. This year, boxes filled with balloons and gold satchels were placed in front of the students. (Photo by Daria Kadovik/Cronkite News)

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