In what is described as the largest "Match Day" in the history of U.S. medical education, graduating seniors learned Friday where they will spend the next three years, but experts warned the record number of new doctors won't end the physician shortage.
This year, 29,171 first-year residency positions were offered through a massive lottery-styled system in which students rank their preferred medical centers -- and hope they are chosen.
More than 2,399 new positions were opened this year compared with 2012, most in areas of primary care.
At Stony Brook University School of Medicine, all 127 seniors matched with a medical center and received white envelopes containing the centers' names. Residencies generally begin in July.
The envelope ceremony is bound in tradition and steeped in anticipation -- and often is considered a rite of passage in the life of a physician-to-be.
About one-third of the class chose areas of primary care -- family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine -- and matched their first choices.
"This is an exciting day. I am overjoyed," said Padela, who grew up in Calverton. "Primary care and pediatrics are perfect for me. If I specialize I might be limiting my potential a little bit. But it's not something that I've ruled out."
Her classmate is also headed out of town.
"I am extremely excited. I matched at Albert Einstein in Philadelphia in emergency medicine," said Obinna Ndum, who will receive Stony Brook University's first doctor of medicine/master of business administration degree when he graduates in May.
"This was my first choice and I am super happy," said Ndum, originally from Washington, D.C.
Similar scenes of anticipation and joy played out in medical schools in the city.
At Weill Cornell Medical College, students received a champagne toast.
Faye will train in internal medicine, but ultimately hopes to complete a fellowship in gastroenterology.
Weill Cornell's dean, Dr. Laurie Glimcher, said she's pleased so many of her school's students chose primary care.
"This is one of our most successful matches," Glimcher said Friday, adding the class of 2013 is also remarkable for its diversity.
Things were quieter at the Old Westbury campus of the NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine where about 40 percent of students in a class of 285 received notices earlier this year in the osteopathic match, said Dr. Abraham Jeger, associate dean of clinical education.
Although the remainder of the class received match letters Friday, about 94 percent of the class matched, leaving 6 percent without a place to go.
Dr. Atul Grover, chief public policy officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges, said there is a shortage of residency positions in the United States, which limits the number of physicians in practice.
By 2025, the association estimates a shortage of 130,000 physicians unless steps are taken now to fill the void, Grover said.