While many people celebrated March 17 as St. Patrick’s Day, medical students from the Class of 2005 had another reason to celebrate. There were shouts, cheers and tears of joy at Harkness Ballroom on Match Day, the half-century-old ritual that will likely determine the course of their careers. Nationwide, almost 94 percent of medical school seniors matched to residencies this year.

Students applied to programs around the country, but a larger number than ever before—27 out of 94—are staying in Connecticut, mostly at Yale-New Haven Hospital. “People worry about New Haven—is it keeping good students? Well, it’s keeping really good students,” said Nancy R. Angoff, M.P.H. ’81, M.D. ’90, HS ’93, associate dean for student affairs. Another trend at Yale is that more students this year are going into internal medicine, primary care and pediatrics than in past years, which saw higher numbers of graduating seniors entering surgical subspecialties.

For the most part, students were calm and poised as they approached the tables stacked with the envelopes that held news of their futures for the next four years. But Michael Shapiro was unable to contain himself as he sprinted ahead of the crowd, ripped open his envelope, let out a yell and then burst into tears. He was accepted to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s plastic surgery program, his goal after volunteering for Operation Smile two years ago, when he went to Morocco to assist with reconstructive surgery. “It sounds schmaltzy,” he said, “but it’s been my dream.”

Many students whipped out cell phones to share the good news with family and friends, but Brad Raphael was able to share it in person with his father, Irving G. Raphael, M.D. ’71, who was on hand. “It’s excitement, nervousness and relief all combined into one,” the younger Raphael said before opening his envelope. Upon learning the good news—that he was going to the Hospital for Special Surgery at Cornell University Weill Medical College to pursue orthopaedic surgery—he hugged his father, also an orthopaedist, and said, “It’s exactly where I want to be. I’m feeling euphoria right now.”