A little more than luck

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Tim Wallace stopped on the stage, peeked into the envelope in his hands, and then slowly pulled off his green shirt to reveal a black shirt that read, "Arkansas."

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Constance Newman celebrates after finding out where she will do her residency on 2009 Match Day. Students further their medical training in three to seven years of residency.  Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Constance Newman celebrates after finding out where she will do her residency on 2009 Match Day. Students further their medical training in three to seven years of residency.

"I'm just a cocky guy," he joked, after getting his first choice of residency program for anesthesia, a selection that was not revealed to him until he got his envelope during the Match Day ceremony at Medical College of Georgia.

Across the country beginning at noon, graduating medical students are told to which residency program they "matched" and where they will spend the next three to seven years learning their specialties. The students had visited and previously ranked residency programs. A computer at the National Resident Matching Program pairs up that list with a preferred list from the programs to try and give students their highest choice.

At MCG, Match Day is a raucous party held in a large auditorium as students are called up one by one to the stage to get the envelope and learn their fate, with each name answered by ear-splitting screams and shouts of encouragement.

This year's match was the largest ever with 29,890 applicants, including 15,638 from U.S. medical schools, 400 more than last year, according to the National Resident Matching Program.

"I attribute it to medical school expansion, expansion in the class sizes of existing medical schools and of course new medical schools are being developed," said Executive Director Mona Signer, which includes efforts at MCG.

Careers can ride on the contents of each envelope and students found different ways to handle the pressure. Kamal Aderibigbe looked at his letter, let out a huge yell, and fell to his knees in the middle of the stage, before leaping to his feet, jumping off stage and sprinting up the aisle. He got his first choice, the orthopedic surgery program at the University of Minnesota, in spite of the fact that orthopedic surgery was one of the most competitive fields in this year's match.

Ruthanne Dahlheimer pulled off a cartwheel before mounting the stage to grab her envelope and find out she is going to Anderson Area Medical Center in Seneca Lakes-Anderson, S.C., to do family medicine, her top choice.

"I was kind of concerned," she said afterward. "I'm shaking."

Her selection will help with her goal of becoming a primary care provider in a rural area.

Fighting the urge to find out her fate, Amy Blackburn waited about 20 minutes to open her envelope so that she and friends Antonio Luis and Shelle Rae Schwamberger could all find out together.

"We're best friends that way," Mr. Luis said.

Ms. Schwamberger is also going into family medicine, bucking a trend that saw the number of family medicine residency positions declining this year by 101.

"I like being able to treat the whole family," she said. "You can treat the entire community."

Family medicine residency programs had increased last year and there was hope that might be the beginning of a trend, which turned out not to be true, Ms. Signer said. Family medicine lends itself more to the future of medicine and the concept of a "medical home" for patients and families to receive care, she said.

Residency programs are also important in determining where a doctor might call home.

Justin Dunn's letter was handed to 6-month-old Tripp, who managed to hang onto it as his father carried him all the way back to their seats. It revealed that Mr. Dunn will be spending the next five years in the orthopedic surgery program at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine-Chattanooga.

"Where he's going to grow up," he said, looking down at Tripp, still clutching the letter.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (15) Add comment
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iletuknow
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iletuknow 03/20/09 - 01:38 am
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Don't become a slave to the

Don't become a slave to the pharmacutical companies.

LadyCisback
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LadyCisback 03/20/09 - 07:15 am
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oh great!!.. what!!.. more

oh great!!.. what!!.. more money hungry doctors!!

georgia.girl59
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georgia.girl59 03/20/09 - 07:43 am
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Great set of photos today,

Great set of photos today, Rainier. They sure do tell the story. Thanks.

marien
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marien 03/20/09 - 08:09 am
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Kudos to all the young folks

Kudos to all the young folks becoming doctors and such making a difference in the world. Studying hard pays off..

PositiveThinker
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PositiveThinker 03/20/09 - 08:53 am
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Lady, I find your comments

Lady, I find your comments far from lady-like. As a wife of a medical student I understand the sacrifice these students make in order to serve and help the public.
Lets break that down. A doctor spends a minimum of 11 years in education and training after the age of 18. Many are in training for 15 or more years. They are living on student loans and contributing zero to their family's income until the residency years. At that time they earn less than minimum wage if you factor in the 80-100 hour workweek. When a doctor emerges from training he/she averages $160K debt, is over 30 years old and is usually feeling older.
These days many doctors make less money than some real estate agents, salesmen, and even teachers.
Let's face it, people do not choose a career in medicine to make money. The opportunities are much greater in business, law or computer programing. Frankly I WANT my neurosurgeon to be highly reimbursed because I want to believe she is the cream of the crop.

Please--instead of bashing these students... join me in encouraging them and praising them for their efforts.

noway
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noway 03/20/09 - 09:06 am
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I agree Positive. There is no

I agree Positive. There is no need for "Lady" to say those things. Thank goodness for good doctors, who take care of the rest of us. They deserve their money for the time and effort they have to put in and to deal with the rotten insurance companies and malpractice insurance. Congratulations to our future physicians!

iletuknow
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iletuknow 03/20/09 - 10:17 am
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PositiveThinker
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PositiveThinker 03/20/09 - 10:45 am
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Correction: That website is

Correction: That website is not factual. (studentdoc.com). Historically family practice doctors in Georgia make anywhere from 82,000 a year to 180,000. Depending on location, size of practice, days worked, and demographics of patients.

Onedayatatime
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Onedayatatime 03/20/09 - 10:57 am
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Let us also remember too that

Let us also remember too that not every medical student across the country or even Augusta received good news this week. Just as the number of applicants for residencies is rising, so is the competitive nature of the industry. The stakes are higher, and not all students received their first choice or even A choice this season. While I am glad that the Chronicle reported on this significant event for the lives of nearly 200 students yesterday, let us also keep and mind and pray for the students who are still searching for their direction this summer -- and also for those who did not receive their top choice.

soldout
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soldout 03/20/09 - 12:21 pm
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I wish more would get into

I wish more would get into NAET where the shortages are becoming huge as the word gets out.

zzzzzzt
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zzzzzzt 03/20/09 - 12:34 pm
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So where can we get the NAET

So where can we get the NAET training? Can you go to one of those evening seminars at the Marriot, pay $1000, and come out a certified NAET practitioner?

HYPOCRITES 08
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HYPOCRITES 08 03/20/09 - 02:10 pm
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Great comments Positive

Great comments Positive Thinkers. One of these very same Doctor saved my life last week. As far as Lady is concerned, what did you expect. Good luck to all of them.

FallingLeaves
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FallingLeaves 03/20/09 - 02:39 pm
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Constance in the picture

Constance in the picture above sure would have looked great in the St. Patrick's Day parade. What a delightful picture! Congratulations young lady (and classmates) on a well-earned accomplishment!

FallingLeaves
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FallingLeaves 03/20/09 - 02:40 pm
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I just looked at the other

I just looked at the other three pictures, so I amend my post to say, what a delightful SERIES of pictures. Great to see the enthusiasm on match day expressed so well in these photos.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 03/20/09 - 08:45 pm
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If any of them try to leave

If any of them try to leave Georgia break their legs after all the money the state/people pay to fund a medical school. Create more programs in Georgia for residents and you will have more physicians in the state. Succinctly, that's how you solve the "doctor shortage" in our state.

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