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Ohio State College of Medicine fourth-years push the envelope

The sound of tearing paper resonated throughout the Ohio Union Ballroom at the strike of noon on Thursday as fourth-year medical students from Ohio State’s College of Medicine ripped into envelopes containing their residency assignments.

On National Residency Match Day, medical school students across the country learn their residency assignments. About 400 students, faculty, friends and family gathered at the Union for the med school milestone.

Fourth-year students nationwide had a window of Jan. 15 to Feb. 23 to register their program preferences, with 27,812 students participating this year, according to the National Residency Match Program website.

According to NRMP, an independent, not-for-profit corporation, students are matched to residency programs based on ranking and submitted program preferences.

A ceremony was held at 11:30 a.m., when speakers reflected on the accomplishment, shared statistics about the matches and reminded students that the results entered them into a binding contract.

Catherine Lucey, interim Dean of the College of Medicine, commended students for their accomplishments.

“There are no losers on Match Day, only winners, because this tells you where you get to be a doctor for the very, very first time,” Lucey said.

Lucey said 97 out of 205 students would be staying in Ohio.

Before the opening of envelopes, Hillary Bashaw, College of Medicine Student Council president, and Marty Tam, OSU College of Medicine 2011 class president, fourth-years at the College of Medicine, presented Jane Trask, OSU College of Medicine Program Coordinator, with a book of thank-you cards in recognition of her assistance to the students.

“For all the envelopes that we’ll get to open, you have a bunch to open here,” Bashaw said to Trask.

When the ceremony ended about 15 minutes early, students approached eight tables where their envelopes were arranged alphabetically.

Alena Neton, a fourth-year at the College of Medicine, expressed anxiety as she clutched her envelope with 10 minutes of waiting remaining.

“No matter what, it’s going to be a good thing, but it’s just the expectation that kills you,” Neton said.

“Now T-Mobile and I get to torture you,” Trask said, watching her phone, air horn in hand. Some said that Verizon’s clocks were ahead of T-Mobile.

Trask sounded the air horn and 205 students learned their fates. Some gingerly opened the envelopes while others tore into them.

For Jiaxi Ding, a fourth-year at the College of Medicine, the results meant weekend plans could go ahead unaltered.

“It means that I’m going to get to move this weekend. I already had it planned out, and I was really hoping that this was what I was wanting it to be, and it is,” Ding said. “I was about to vomit beforehand, but now I’m good.”

Ding will be moving to Pittsburgh to be a resident at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for a year, then on to State University of New York, where she will specialize in ophthalmology.

“I think it sort of validates everything you work hard for. I don’t think any of us mind working hard but to know that in the end, there’s going to be some sort of satisfaction, this is it,” Ding said. “This made the four years worthwhile.”

Trask serves as a liaison between students and the NRMP. She said she ensures the students are headed in the right direction, but they do the necessary work.

“They have 100 doors that they have to run through,” Trask said. “I’m the one that makes sure that there is not an obstacle on the other side of that door.”

For Mary Ann Bobulsky, mother of Gregory Bobulsky, a fourth-year at the OSU College of Medicine, the results were welcome news.

“He’s gonna get to stay in Ohio, which is really good for us,” Mary Ann said. “He’s not gonna go to Pittsburgh or Vanderbilt or some place like that.”

Medical school students across the country learn the results of their matching simultaneously. Different schools reveal the results to students in different ways. OSU has been holding the envelope ceremony for 20 years, Trask said.

Trask said in years past, the ceremony had been held in Meiling Hall, but as time went on, students wanted their families present for the tradition. She said depending on what the students want, it could evolve into something completely different in the future. 

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