Some 126 students received their medical residency appointments at Healy’s West Side on St. Patrick’s Day and will go on to train in 28 different states and several different specialties of medicine.

The celebration at Healy’s is part of a nation-wide unveiling of residency program matchings for medical students called “Match Day.”

Promptly, at 11 a.m., professors and administrators from Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine handed out sealed envelopes that revealed the future for the young doctors.  Some cried for joy, others simply howled with relief that this part of their medical training was completed.

As a group, this year’s class has chosen to specialize mostly in primary care.

“Primary care increased to 52 percent, up 9 percent from last year. Other strong specialties include emergency medicine, with 14 percent,” said Teresa Wronski, associate dean at Stritch.

Danielle Manalo, from Oxnard, Ca., will be specializing in family medicine.

“I love taking care of all types of people,” she said of her choice in residencies.

Those students not specializing in primary care, will be studying procedural based practices.

Amy Wickman, 28, of Chicago, will be staying at Loyola to become an orthopedic surgeon.

Wickman’s proud father, Tom, said he didn’t really think his little girl would grow up to be a doctor.

“She always wanted to do it, but you don’t look that far ahead,” he said.

Some of the students will be serving in the armed forces, one of them is future Lt. Steve Armbruster, 26, who will go on to the National Naval Medical Center to study internal medicine.

Like his fellow military doctors, Armbruster, originally from Massachusetts, found out where he was going in December.

Brett Russell, 25, from Northbrook said the need for quick decisions drove him to emergency services.

“I always found it to be the most interesting in terms of the variety of things and having to make quick decisions,” he said.

Russell will be studying close by at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

“Match Day” is the culmination of not just four years of hard work but a lifetime of studying,” said Michael Koller, an assistant professor at Stritch. “This really decides their future and creates opportunities for them for the rest of their lives.”

For Koller, this class’ choice to enter mostly into primary care is a reflection of the unique character of this group of students and the school they attended.

“They are very people-oriented. They are wonderful, professional and enthusiastic kids” he said. “We spend a lot of time trying to teach them that there is a person behind the illness.”

For the students, “Match Day” is also the culmination of a nerve-wracking residency match up process.

The matches are made after rounds of interviews.  Following the interviews a computerized system called the National Residency Matching Program matches students and residencies in an attempt to get everyone their top choice.

As for the future, most students agreed it will be a nerve-wracking yet exciting time.

“Starting in July we’ll be the ones making the decisions,” Russell said with a confident, almost cocky smile. “It is a big responsibility shift, but it’ll work out.”