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NOLA medical graduates learn their residency assignments

New Orleans, La.-- Friday marked a critical milestone for medical graduates across the country as they make the transition from student to physician.

LSU School of Medicine Dean Steve Nelson, M.D. told a room full of more than 180 medical graduates, "In just three months from today, you will be the doctor responsible for your patients."

Match Day is where they'll find out where they'll spend the next three to five years in a residency program.

"We apply to a bunch of different programs, and they offer interviews," said Maria Abascal. Her family flew in from Guatemala to witness the excitement.

"I'm extremely nervous right now. It's been a tough few weeks just trying to figure out where I'm gonna end up," explained Nicholas Clayton.

"I haven't slept since about two o'clock this morning. I'm married so it's kind of big thing. We just bought a house recently in New Orleans, but there's a good possibility we may be moving," said Benjamin Triche.

His top choice was top secret. Members of his family made bets on where he'll end up for his residency. They wrote the universities where they thought he would end up on their hands.

By 11:00 a.m., the wait was almost over. Associate Dean of Student Affairs Joseph Delcarpio, Ph.D. began calling out each student's name to accept their letter. Abascal and Triche were all smiles. Both got their top choice along with Triche's good buddy Clayton.

"We're going to UAB baby... Yeah!" yelled out Clayton.

Chuck Haase's wife opened his letter and loudly said, "We're moving!" Haase, who's 52 years old, found out he's headed to Baton Rouge to study emergency medicine.

"It's something I wanted to do since I was in high school. Life takes you where you go, and I finally had the opportunity to do this," he said.  Haase said he was a police officer for 25 years.

Before they receive their letters, each student had to donate a canned good and at least $1. The person whose name was called last received that entire pot of money. Justin Farge was that lucky guy. "Buying everybody drinks tonight. It's in celebration!" he said.

Farge's fiance had to wait just as long. They wanted to open their letters together. After they opened their letters, they kissed and hugged and yelled out, "We're staying here!"

"Like we have had in the past, we're going to have more of our students who are going to stay in Louisiana than are going to leave Louisiana," said Delcarpio.  

Out of LSU's 187 medical graduates, the school says 104 will remain in Louisiana.

Tulane School of Medicine matched 188 graduating students with their residency assignments on Friday. The school says 34 will remain in Louisiana.

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