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CLEVELAND (WJW) – Students at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine learned what the next step would be in their future Friday.

Match Day is when graduating medical students find out which residency program at which they’ll be training for the next 3 to 7 years.

Thousands of aspiring physicians across the country tear open envelopes that contain the name of the medical center, in what is one of the biggest moments in their careers.

The students found out their match at the same time.

“It’s surreal, it’s everything I dreamed of,” Lord Mhonda said. She will begin an emergency medicine residency a with the University of Maryland. “Now I’m on top of the world, cloud nine.”

This was the first fully in-person Match Day since 2019, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Match Day is held on the third Friday of March each year.

Case Western said they were expecting more than 500 attendees, including students, families and friends.

The university said 22% of its graduates will enter residencies locally at University Hospitals, Cleveland Clinic and MetroHealth Medical Center and 25% will remain in Ohio.

Top residency choices this year include anesthesiology, radiology, internal medicine, emergency medicine and general surgery, with 30% of the class going into primary care specialties.

“They’re off from a training status to a career status, and it happens not only here but at every medical school in the country at the same time,” CWRU School of Medicine Dean Dr. Stan Gerson said. “They’ve worked incredibly hard and it’s an incredibly meaningful milestone, breakthrough for all of them.”

“It’s just a surreal feeling to have this opportunity,” student Tres Barksdale said. Barksdale matched with his top choice in St. Louis.

Students will begin their residencies after graduating with their medical degrees in mid-May.