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On Match Day, emotions run high for medical students

Keck Medicine of USC
Keck Medicine of USC
Richard Carrasco
Keck Medicine of USC
Keck School of Medicine of USC student Maria de Fatima Reyes. She's heading to the University of California at San Francisco
Ricardo Carrasco III
Keck Medicine of USC
Maria de Fatima Reyes.

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Today is "Match Day," the day when the doctors of tomorrow learn where they'll be doing their medical residency.

Though students have their own hopeful preferences, they won't know where they're going until they open that envelope with their name on it.

It's a process that begins when senior medical students apply to residency programs all across the country based on their chosen specialty. Then, faculty at these locations who have reviewed their applications will interview the students they believe will be a good fit for their program.

Both students and medical facilities will rank each other. After that, The National Resident Matching Program will record both party's rankings. Using their local algorithm, the Resident Matching Program provides the student with the highest choice possible to determine where their training will continue.

Dr. Donna Elliot, senior associate dean for student and educational affairs at Keck School of Medicine of USC, is the one that hands out the residency assignments to students. Elliot still remembers when she was on the receiving end of Match Day.

"I was delighted," she told Take Two's A Martinez. "I trained in pediatrics and I was fortunate enough to get my top choice."

Elliot expects to see that elation today.

"Mostly tears of joy has been my experience," she said, "Lots of screaming and shouting of, 'I matched at so-and-so! I can't believe it!'"

She also anticipates there will be some upset with their matches.

"There's always some students who are a little disappointed, at least on first pass, at where they ended up. It often has to do with geography. They wanted to be with family or with a significant other and that the location of their training program will not allow them to do that," she said.

One student who's definitely excited about her destination for medical residency is Maria de Fatima Reyes. She's a fourth-year med student at Keck who will graduate in May. After that, she's headed to the University of California at San Francisco to study gynecology. While most of her friends from USC are staying in Los Angeles, UCSF was Reyes's top choice.

"It's a special program, it's in California and I'm just humbled that they want me," she said.

That's not to say that her work in school is done yet.

"I just have a couple of assignments. I need to finish a program for a gala for the Latino Medical Student Association. Then, I think, maybe happy hour with my friends."

To hear this conversation, click the blue player above.