Months of anxiety ended on the morning of March 19 for 104 soon-to-graduate medical students.

At exactly 9 a.m., sitting in their homes surrounded by loved ones, members of the UC Davis School of Medicine Class of 2021 refreshed the web page to their academic portals. Within seconds, students learned where they will spend the next three to seven years of their journey to train as specialists.

It was a scene repeated simultaneously across the U.S. as 38,106 residency positions were offered to graduating medical students, thanks to a complex algorithm that plays matchmaker.

And just like last year, the pandemic forced medical schools to shun a large, festive ceremony. In its place, Match Day was celebrated during a class-wide Zoom session that aired live to everyone else via Facebook.

It was still a cheerful event as students announced their matches.

“So, I matched into pediatrics at Stanford!” said Morgan Conley, sitting in front of a “congrats” sign with supporters.

A wide-smiling Kimberly Ngo declared, “I’m so happy to say I matched into my No. 1 for family medicine, UCSF!” She broke into applause and thanked her family, friends and mentors.

“I’m obviously crying,” said Christina Lowry, sitting between her partner and her mother. “I’m going to obstetrics gynecology at Kaiser San Francisco!”

Roxana Cabrera held up the blue “I matched” placard sent by the School of Medicine and announced: “I matched at my No. 1, Stanford-O’Connor. So excited!

“I’m surrounded by my lovely parents, who have been with me through everything,” she added, her voice cracking, “and my future husband, he deserves an honorary medical degree.”

As usual, most students matched into training programs in the Golden State, which aligns with the school’s values of preparing doctors to work in California communities where they’re most needed, including in urban underserved and rural areas. Some 85% of students will train in California, and 22% at UC Davis, said Sharad Jain, associate dean for students.

Many were excited to match near where they were raised. For Alejandra Beristain-Barajas, it means providing care at Natividad Medical Center in Salinas. “We’re going back home, to see my parents in Watsonville,” she said.

For Farsam Fraz, it means training to be an OB-GYN at Stanford, near where she grew up in San Mateo County.

Sixty percent of students will specialize in primary care, and 21% of them will train for internal medicine.

The program was broadcast from Betty Irene Moore Hall, where administrators extended their well wishes. “This is a journey, and one that you’re very well prepared for,” said School of Medicine Dean Allison Brashear. “The pandemic has demonstrated the important role of physicians, and how much our patients and global community depend on your expertise, your passion, your courage and your leadership.”