At 10:30 a.m. Friday, senior medical student David Khuo was serene and collected, sitting calmly with his family in the MGM Grand Detroit Ballroom.
Many of his classmates confessed to being nervous. Not him. "I'm pretty even keeled at the moment," said Khuo, one of 270 Wayne State University School of Medicine students about to learn where they would spend the next three to seven years of their lives.
Flash forward 90 minutes. The 26-year-old Melbourne, Australia, native who moved to Michigan as a high school freshman jumped out of his chair, knocking it to the ground as he quickly read a few words on a white sheet of paper. He had matched with his No. 1 choice for residency after graduation in May - an internal medicine program at the University of Virginia. He let out a shout of joy then pulled his mother, Xiao Chun Li, father Jia Long Zhuo and teary-eyed sister Freda Zhuo together for a family hug.
"I've done a 180 from before," he joked. "It's a time of celebration right now. It's one of those rare times in life where everything comes together."
The annual Match Day ceremony for the WSU medical school's senior students mimicked others like it going on simultaneously across the country. In Detroit, nearly 900 students, faculty, staff and family counted down the seconds before their sons, daughters, wives, husbands, mothers, fathers and siblings opened envelopes containing their residency assignment. The letter included the institution name, location and their chosen specialty.
Minutes before the countdown to noon, thin green envelopes were placed in the hands of the 270 senior students who make up the Class of 2014, waiting with 28,944 allopathic (M.D.) and osteopathic (D.O.) medical school seniors across the United States.
At WSU, 95.6 percent of students matched into residencies.
"You've waited years for this moment," said Lisa MacLean, M.D., assistant dean of Student Affairs and Career Development. "I congratulate you now as you enter this next chapter of your life."
Match Day is organized by the National Resident Matching Program, a private non-profit corporation established in 1952 to provide a uniform date of appointment to positions of graduate medical education in the United States.
A whopping 56.7 percent of WSU's Class of 2014, is staying in Michigan, Dr. MacLean told the crowd. That's up from 52.3 percent last year, great news for a state with a projected physician shortage, as studies show that residents who train in Michigan often remain here for the majority of their careers. Another 31.9 percent will enter primary care residencies.
Nationally, 96 percent of U.S. seniors matched with one of several top picks they previously submitted to the NRMP.
"This is truly a celebration that is all about you," Dean Valerie M. Parisi, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., said. "You are a terrific class going to phenomenal places."
Thirty-one students matched with their soon-to-be alma mater, earning residencies in the programs solely- or co-sponsored sponsored by WSU.
The students heading out of state will practice medicine in 32 U.S. states and Canada, at Columbia University Medical Center in New York; University of California at San Diego Medical Center; Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland; Yale/New Haven Hospital in Connecticut; Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee; and 95 other hospitals, universities and medical centers.
Autumn Schultz is moving to Florida, where she will train in three years of psychiatry and two years of child psychiatry at University of South Florida in Tampa. The-28-year old Redford resident had a 3-month-old baby named Draken when she started medical school almost four years ago. "You definitely have to have a strong support system," she said, pointing to her husband of seven years, Jesse Schultz, who changed careers to accommodate his high school sweetheart's unpredictable medical student schedule. Both earned undergraduate degrees from WSU.
"I'm really proud of her. It has been a long four years," said Schultz, a high school sports coach for now.
At least one Schultz is relieved to be moving to Florida at the end of May.
"(Draken) has been saying all winter he wants to go someplace warm," Autumn said.
While the Schultzes are moving, Jasmine Gaines will be going home to Alabama, this time to train in family medicine in Montgomery. The 36-year-old already has a doctorate in cellular molecular biology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, but moved to Michigan because of WSU.
"Wayne State is known," she said. "M.D. has always been my childhood dream. I came back to my first love."
Across the country, 17,767 allopathic seniors participated in the 2014 match.. Combined, 58,525 allopathic and osteopathic applicants from the U.S., Canada and other countries applied for 29,671 U.S. residencies.
Internal medicine residencies were the most popular clinical discipline at WSU this year, with 45 students entering such programs. Another 32 students will enter an emergency medicine program and 21 will enter family medicine. Thirty-two will participate in a transitional year before beginning their specialty training. Other chosen specialties include child neurology, radiation oncology, urology and pediatrics.
Before the matches were revealed, several awards honoring students and faculty were announced. The awards list included:
Class Marshal: Dr. Barbara Bosch
Voluntary Faculty Award: Dr. David Amponsah
Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award (Faculty): Dr. Sarkis Kouyoumjian
Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award (Student): Neil Cox
Herbert Mendelson Enthusiasm for Medicine Endowed Scholarship: Courtney Moore
Medical Alumni Senior Scholarship Award: Rhead Uddin
Robert J. Sokol, M.D., Medical Alumni Association Endowed Prize: Natalja Stanski
Class of 2014 Academic Achievement Awards: Freshman Year, Rhead Uddin; sophomore year, Elias Taxakis; junior year, Karam Asmaro, Kevin Ginsburg, Elizabeth Grier, Michael Helmreich, Nicholas Helmstetter, Bradley Krasnick, Satyesh Rana, Natalja Stanski and Rhead Uddin
Elvis Smith Alford, M.D., and Nellie Corbin Alford Memorial Award: Elias Taxakis
Marjorie Edwards Prize for Scholarship and Community Service: Jasmine Gaines
Dean's Distinguished Leadership Awards: Brandon Busuito, Alicia Eby, Robert Guglielmo, Andrew Guzman, Jenna Kado, Pridvi Kandagatla, Marc Korn, Courtney Moore, Mio Nakamura, Cyrus Rabbani, Satyesh Rana, Mona Shah, David Tiesma and Joseph Tsao
Distinguished Service Awards: Zac Berg, Neil Cox, Thomas Engel, Jessica Everett, Kevin Ginsburg, Elena Hadjicharambous, Nicholas Helmstetter, Jenna Kado, Courtney Moore, Sean Mutchnick, Natalja Stanski, Elias Taxakis, David Tiesma and Christopher Wee
Penfil-Tischler Award: Sajvi Sethi