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Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Fourth-year University of Utah School of Medicine student Haleigh Emerson hugs her husband, Brock, after opening her letter of acceptance to McKay-Dee Hospital's family medicine program on Match Day at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Friday, March 17, 2017. The couple is flanked by Haleigh's mother, Janet, and Brock's mother, Jolyn, who were excited to learn that their children will remain in Utah.

SALT LAKE CITY — Kendra Keenan underwent knee surgery Thursday to repair injuries from a recent snowboarding accident.

Less than 24 hours later, she joined her University of Utah School of Medicine classmates Friday morning for Match Day, when fourth-year students across the country learn where they will conduct their medical residencies.

"I'm like, I'm not missing this," Keenan said, who was on crutches and fitted with an orthopedic brace from her hip to her ankle.

Keenan, who is from Minneapolis has lived in Utah about 10 years as she has earned a bachelor's degree, a master's in public health and soon, her medical degree. She matched with the U.'s Department of Neurology.

"It's such a relief to know where I'm going," Keenan said.

Earlier this week medical students learned whether they had matched, but the big reveal was Friday when each opened an envelope to find out where they will live and work for the next few years.

The U.'s School of Medicine's Class of 2017 includes 47 women and 45 men who matched in 20 different specialties at 46 different institutions from coast to coast.

About a quarter will remain in Utah for part or all of their training, and 44 percent matched into a primary care field.

Patricia Avelar matched at Pomona Valley Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program, in Pomona, Calif.

"We're from California and it was my first choice," she said as her jubilant family and boyfriend wiped tears of joy.

"It's been a long journey for us."

David Smyth's match was at Rush University in Chicago, where he will continue his training in neurology.

After months of applications, travel and interviews, Smyth said he relaxed after he knew the matches had been made a couple of weeks ago.

"Today was the first day I had butterflies about it," Smyth said. "As I opened the envelope, my mind cleared and I was ready for anything."

As it turned out, Rush was his top choice.

Most students were joined by their families, some with spouses and children.

Two couples said they had been selected for a couple's match, meaning both will perform their residencies at the same institution.

Most of the students expressed gratitude to medical school professors and clinical instructors who guided them through medical school.

Susan Folsom, who earned her undergraduate degree from BYU before attending medical school at the U., will head to Northwestern University for a residency in obstetrics and gynecology.

"It's such a blessing. I just can't believe it. I still feel like I'm walking on a cloud," she said.

Folsom said she had rich experiences in the U.'s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. "They're a huge reason I'm going into OB/GYN," she said.

"I'm just beyond thrilled. This is my No. 1 choice far and away. I'm just so excited."

Dr. Vivian S. Lee, dean of the U. School of Medicine, urged the fourth-year students to embrace their opportunities, even if it wasn't their top choice.

"This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning," said Lee, senior vice president for Health Sciences, quoting Winston Churchill.

Email: marjorie@deseretnews.com