Game, set and match

With cheering medical students in the background, Jason Mensch tried to carry on a cell phone conversation Thursday at Skipper?s Smokehouse.

?Hey, baby,? Mensch said, sporting a bright red Kansas City Chiefs T-shirt. ?Guess what I got? I got the University of Kansas.?

The woman on the other end of the phone was Mensch?s fiancee, who lives in Kansas City. Mensch plans to concentrate on anesthesiology at the university after one transitional year. Thursday was a very important day for Mensch and other four-year medical students.

The event, called National Match Day, is when medical students who have spent months applying and interviewing learn where their residency will be performed. The National Residency Matching Program works by allowing students to interview and then rank their most preferred programs. Medical schools compile lists of students based on test scores and interviews. After cross-referencing the data, the program produces the matches. The NRMP says this year there was a decrease in residency positions filled in family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics, medicine-pediatrics, internal medicine primary and pediatrics primary. General surgery matches also decreased this year. Other specialties, including anesthesiology, physical medicine and rehabilitation and diagnostic radiology, experienced increases.

Minutes before Steven Specter, associate dean and professor for the College of Medicine, began the ceremony, Luis Barroso said he was experiencing mixed emotions. ?I?m a little nervous,? he said. ?But absolutely I?m excited. This is a very big deal.? Barroso?s first choice, he said, was Massachusetts General Hospital.

?I think my chances are 50-50, if you want to call that good,? he said. ?It?s a really good name, and they have a really good internal medicine program. After my interview, I thought that I could work with their people.? With that, Barroso took out a bottle of tequila and sliced a lime with his pocketknife. He said he just needed a little something to loosen him up. After downing a couple shots, Barroso, who plans to study internal medicine, heard his name. He stood in front of the crowd and read the piece of paper that said he had been accepted to the University of Virginia Medical Center.

When Barroso returned to his seat he said he wasn?t disappointed, in fact he said he might like Virginia more than Massachusetts. ?This was my No. 2 choice,? he said. ?I like the program, and it?s another good name. It might be a lot easier for me to live in Virginia because it?s less expensive.?

Kamal Massis jumped, screamed, and cheered after his announcement was made. He?ll spend a transitional year at Mayo Graduate School of Medicine in Jacksonville and then study radiology-diagnostic medicine at the university.

But Massis said he?s just happy to be going home. ?That?s where all my family is,? he said. ?This was my top choice.?

Jennifer Sweeney will also be concentrating in radiology-diagnostic, and just like Massis, her family was a consideration. She ran to hug her husband after learning she would remain at USF.

?I had personal reasons for wanting to stay at USF,? Sweeney said, who added her husband works in Tampa. ?USF has a wonderful program for Radiology.?

?We?re good. We?re good,? her husband, Courtney Oswig, said.

Greg Pontone, who plans to study psychiatry, was accepted at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Pontone said on his list of preferences Johns Hopkins ranked either second or third, but he?s happy. ?The call schedule (physicians being called when they?re not on duty) is a little more hectic,? Pontone said of Johns Hopkins. ?Florida seems a little more fun than Baltimore, I don?t think I can make a mistake with Johns Hopkins.?