Erin Fynan’s leg was shaking and she tried to catch her breath. The result was the best she expected and she wanted to call her grandmother.
“I’m going to Birmingham,” she exclaimed through the phone.
Moments earlier, Fynan opened an envelope learning she was accepted to her top choice for an orthopedic surgery residency program at the University of Alabama Medical Center at Birmingham.
She screamed and hugged her parents, boyfriend and classmates, who were also celebrating Match Day at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University.
Match Day is held at medical schools across the country, when students who have ranked their preferences for residency programs find out whether their top choice matched with a preferred list from the programs.
Senior medical students dressed in costumes from 1990s television shows, music groups and sports stars to ease the stress of finding out where they will spend the next several years in training.
“To get a program I love this much, I’m crying I’m so excited,” said Fynan who was dressed as Scary Spice from the 1990s group Spice Girls.
Dressed as Sailor Mercury from a Japanese anime cartoon, Viniya Patidar’s friends picked her up and screamed after learning she was heading to Emory University School of Medicine for her internal medicine residency. Several of her closest friends and classmates also matched with Emory.
“We’re all going to be together,” she said. “I couldn’t be more excited. That’s where my family is, too.”
Andrea Cohron and Billy Orr participated in a match specifically for couples to rank programs at the same institution or geographic location. They are heading to pediatric programs at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
Cohron opened the envelope to find their first choice listed. She started screaming before telling Orr where they were heading.
“She just started cheering and didn’t say anything,” Orr said. “It’s a crazy feeling.”
Dr. Kathleen McKie, the associate dean for student affairs, said pediatrics was a popular choice for students and many of them matched well with programs.
Forty percent of MCG students matched with primary care programs. Of those, 39 percent chose pediatrics and 42 percent internal medicine.
Of MCG students entering first-year residency programs, 26 percent were staying in Georgia.
John Henderson’s chin dropped upon learning he was headed to Loma Linda University in California with Shannon Remick. Participating in couples match could have kept them from getting their top choices, they said.
“It was not our top, but it was not our bottom,” Remick said. “This wasn’t what I expected.”
Remick was headed for a psychiatry residency, and Henderson to an emergency medicine program.
“All the way to the coast,” Henderson said, still coping with the unexpected news.
MCG Dean Peter Buckley congratulated students and parents packed into Lee Auditorium and urged them to relax and have fun during the Match Day party.
“We are extremely proud of each and every one of you,” he said. “I’m going to end my comments with three words: ‘Let it rip.’ ”
Joi Livingston held her 2-year-old daughter, Taylor Rogers, after learning she was staying in Augusta for a pediatric residency at MCG.
“To get to this point now, I’m just so thankful,” she said.