MCG students add twist to Match Day

Rob Willson made his mother cry Thursday.

Jane Willson welled up as she looked at the letter that said her son, a senior at Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Health Sciences University, would be staying home to do his residency in orthopedic surgery.

"Family is important and they really wanted me to stay around here," said Rob, who is from Evans.

The tears, screaming and hugging are a big part of Match Day, when senior medical students around the country find out where they will spend the next phase of their training learning their specialty. The students visited residency programs and ranked their preferences, and then a computer at the National Resident Matching Program matched those with the preferred list from the programs. Until Thursday, most didn't know where they were going.

At MCG, students gathered in a large auditorium and then were called down one by one to receive a residency letter as classmates and families cheered them on.

This year there was an added twist, with students dressing up as superheroes and villains and each selecting a song to be played as they walked down.

Aaron Bolduc, dressed as Spider-Man, hammed it up with a crouching pose as The Clash's Should I Stay Or Should I Go played over the loudspeakers. In his case, the song was the question his letter actually answered -- he matched with MCG to do his residency in general surgery, as he had hoped.

"We love Augusta," said Bolduc, who is originally from the Atlanta area.

There was also a very good reason Amy Goss strode across the stage to Sweet Home Alabama -- she was hoping to get her first choice of the University of Alabama-Birmingham to do her residency in obstetrics/gynecology. And she did.

"I took a risk there," she said, which is not surprising for someone dressed as Batgirl. Although MCG doesn't count it among those going into primary care, the Georgia Board for Physician Workforce considers the eight students choosing OB/GYN as primary care providers, which Goss agrees with.

"Being an OB/GYN, you are a lot of women's primary care physician," she said. "And I just love that."

Among the 176 choosing a residency, 80, or 45 percent, chose a primary care or core residency, if OB/GYN and general surgery are counted.

In the previous five years, 448 of 852 MCG graduates, or 52.6 percent, had chosen one of those residencies, according to the physician workforce board.

But Thursday was all about the celebration. The student theme songs were a first for Dr. Ruth Marie Fincher, the vice dean for academic affairs at MCG, who has been to more than 20 Match Days.

"I thought it was fun," she said. "It slowed it down a little bit, but it went very smoothly."

Jay McCracken, dressed as a raccoon character from the television show South Park handed his envelope to his wife, Courtney, who was dressed as a pink Care Bear. She wrapped him in a fierce hug after she saw they were headed to Emory University, where he will do his residency in neurosurgery.

M.D./Ph.D. student Amy Walthour is heading to a family medicine residency at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

"We're very excited," she said. "That was my first choice. That's where my husband's family lives."