Years of studying, research and anticipation culminated at 11 a.m. Thursday, March 19, as approximately 132 graduating medical students from the University of Colorado Denver’s School of Medicine snatched the coveted letter disclosing their residency placement for the next three to seven years.

“No. 1!” enthused Jeanette Brown, 30, below, holding up her letter revealing her placement at the University of Michigan Hospital for Internal Medicine in pulmonary care. “I got my No. 1 choice.”

“We’re from Wyoming,” commented Marlin “Dusty” Richardson who will be studying neurosurgery at the University of Colorado Hospital. “My family gets to stay here! We’re very excited!”

School of Medicine Dean Richard Krugman estimated about 70 percent of the students are typically highly-enthused about their placement, 20 percent are “fine” with it and for the other 10 percent, he reflects, “Fourty-one years ago this week, I received my letter. My wife said ‘Denver? Denver is brown. You promised me water!’ I told her it was only temporary.” The next year for all these students–including those who are feeling disappointed today–will be one of the most rewarding and educationally significant of their lives, he said.

For more than 30 years now, the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine’s fourth-year medical students have been invited to attend a Match Day Celebration event where emotions and anxiety run high as eager graduating medical students hold the future in the palms of their hands. This year’s event was at the Grand Hyatt in Downtown Denver.

At a set time on a set day each year, graduating medical students across the nation meet their match—in this case, it isn’t a love match but rather the location of the hospital where each student will spend the next three to five years of his or her life as resident physicians. The matches are made by the National Resident Matching Program, an organization that places medical school graduates with hospital-based graduate training programs across the United States.

Of the 132 students, 54 (41 percent) will stay in Colorado for at least their first year, with some of these leaving after this to complete specialty training in another state.  An additional 23, (14 percent) will stay in the West and the remainder of the class will head for states from as close as Nebraska and Kansas, to as far away as North Carolina and Florida.

Internal Medicine was the specialty that captured the most students, with 36 choosing this discipline. An additional 18 students chose Family Medicine and 15 chose Pediatrics, making a total of 52 percent of the class starting their training in primary care fields.

Emergency Medicine, with 13 students, and Anesthesia, with 11, were also very popular choices with this class. The class of 2009 also had a number of students who matched in the competitive sub-specialties of Dermatology (2), Otolaryngology (4), Neurosurgery (2) and Radiation Oncology (1).  Several members of the class of 2009 knew before arriving at the Match where they would be going, including the students who had matched with the military, one who had matched in Ophthalmology, one in Urology and one student who had matched in Child Neurology.

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