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On March 18, fourth-year med students gathered in Dunlop Auditorium for the annual ritual of Match Day, a raucous celebration with none of the pomp or decorum of graduation. Surrounded by a noisy crowd of family and friends, the students were called one by one to collect envelopes holding the name of the hospital where they will serve their years of residency.

To open the proceedings, Associate Dean Jon Morris produced his original match day envelope—from 1982. “And this is the tear stain left by my wife when she realized we’d be spending the next five years in Cleveland,” he quipped, before counseling this year’s crop not to fret over their own placements. “It all works out for the best.” 

Dean Arthur Rubenstein stepped up to the microphone next, welcoming everyone in his distinctive South African accent. He extracted an imaginary envelope from his own pocket and joked, “Here’s my original match envelope from 1912, when I matched in Africa on a game preserve, with the animals.”

Despite the tension in the air, Match Day feels more like a rock concert than a final exam. Names are pulled randomly from a basket and announced in rapid fire, each one drawing a chorus of shouts, whistles, and cheers. Students descend the aisles as flash bulbs explode around them, and after they grab the envelope many turn to strike a pose or flash a goofy grin. Most envelopes are torn open immediately, though, and between hugs parents and spouses work their BlackBerry phones furiously, like wire-service correspondents at a press briefing. The student called last benefits from one final Match Day tradition. Every fourth-year drops one dollar in a bag on their way in, and as a consolation prize for having to wait in suspense the longest, the last student called walks away with the bag of cash

—Sean Whiteman LPS’11

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