But once the ceremony started, with emcees Jeffrey Hill, M.D., and Sue Pope strutting to the podium to the strains of "Stayin' Alive," Match Day 2013 took on a giddy, celebratory air, complete with jokes, kisses and a song-and-dance number.
Tom Muelleman was the first student to the podium - he bid for the spot in a silent auction open to the fourth-year medical students - to find he'd matched in otolaryngology at the University of Kansas.
"This morning was the first time my heart was really racing," Muelleman said.
"I was going to be happy anywhere we went. My great family will be coming with me - so home is coming with me." Keegan Harkins
Scott Madden and his wife Brittni drew loud applause when they took the stage, donned sunglasses, and did the "Gangnam Style" dance.
"We were practicing every night for a week," said Scott, who matched at UNMC for emergency medicine.
|Melissa Gasper and Hernan Hernandez celebrate their matches.|
There were plenty of family moments, as well.
John Craig took the podium with his wife, Katie, and young sons Luke and Drew to find he'd be doing his residency in family medicine at UNMC. A student in the accelerated program, Craig basically already knew his match, but attended because "it's fun to see where all my classmates match," he said.
Rita Lindberg was joined onstage by her husband, Jason, and sons Alexander and Gabriel. She landed her top choice - family medicine at Sioux City, Iowa.
"Finding out Monday that I matched took some of the stress off," she said.
Keegan Harkins let his daughter, Aurora, open the envelope telling him he'd matched in ophthalmology at UNMC.
"I was going to be happy anywhere we went," said Harkins, whose wife, Janel, watched the ceremony online. "My great family will be coming with me - so home is coming with me."