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SALT LAKE CITY — Medical students around the nation found out about the next phase of their professional careers Friday.

It's called "Match Day," where fourth-year students and future doctors open their match envelope to find out where they will live and work while completing their residency over the next few years.

“Your fate and future individually and collectively lies on this table in unopened letters. That is very bizarre,” said Dr. Dale Hall, president of the School of Medicine Alumni Association.

The 74 students — 30 women and 44 men — are among the thousands of medical students across the country that open the letters at the same time, which in Utah was 10 a.m.

“You matched into 65 different programs in 23 different specialties,” said Dr. Vivian Lee, dean of the University of Utah School of Medicine. “You’ll be going to 27 different states.”

The students submit applications to several hospitals relating to their field of study, but they don't know exactly where they'll go until they open the envelope surrounded by family and friends.

"Eighteen or 24 percent of you are going to be performing all or some of your residency in Utah,” Lee told the students.

Emotions were running high as they waited for the moment to rush the table to grab the envelope with their name on it.

“I know that at this very moment that every cortical neuron you have is screaming, ‘Oh, my gosh! Will this guy finish so I can get my freaking envelope?'" Hall said.

Then with a ribbon-cutting came cheers, and the students rushed to the table where the envelopes were.

“All of our lives have been at a complete stop until this day,” Swati Rao said. “We haven’t been able to play, honeymoon and deal with kids and housing because we’ve been waiting for today.”

“We worked so hard for all this time, and it's paid off,” said Jackie Simonis, who is going to Charlotte, North Carolina, to a program called Carolina’s Medical Center for Emergency Medicine.

Melissa Nuntapreda is going to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia.

“I’m really happy,” she said with a laugh. “I’m going to be an internal medicine physician."

After celebrating with their families, the students came up one by one to announce where they were going and to mark it on a map.

“We matched into our first choice at University of California, Los Angeles,” Michael Kline said with excitement.

And by the looks of all the smiles in this room, it's clear these medical students can't wait to get started.

"You have received a marvelous education from a wonderful institution,” Hall said. “You are well-prepared for the next step."

Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc