Five UCF medical students have matched into highly competitive urology and ophthalmology residencies — programs that pick their applicants before National Match Day, this year on March 15.

Nicholas Buchanan and Emily Schofield will train in ophthalmology at Texas A&M  and University of Florida respectively.

Urology matches include Linda Guan, who will train at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Sudarshan Srirangapatanam who will train at to the University of California, San Francisco, and Lindsey Webb who will receive her training at University of Connecticut Health.

Webb originally wanted to be a biomedical engineer to help people by creating medical devices, but she later realized she would miss out on developing relationships with patients.  She chose urology after seeing firsthand how those specialists can help patients with quality-of-life issues, both with and without surgery.

“During my third year of med school, my grandmother was having issues with her urinary continence, which led her to stop going out as much and was very isolating,” Webb says. “However, a urologist was able to help her, and she was able to go back to the outgoing, social person she is. I want to be able to help patients like that urologist was able to help my grandmother.”

A former college baseball player, Buchanan says early exposure to medicine through his father, who is a family physician, set him on a path to medicine.

“From a very young age, I understood the impact that physicians can have on their community and the well-being of others,” he says, “and I really dedicated myself from that time on to a future to medicine.”

He decided to pursue ophthalmology because the specialty has such a direct impact on people’s lives and because he also has an interest in surgery.

“I was just absolutely ecstatic,” Buchanan says about receiving his match result. “I was with my wife and family, and we were just crying tears of joy, from the relief and the excitement that my path to my future career was kind of more set in stone now. It was incredible!”

Like Buchanan, Schofield was also inspired by her physician father to pursue medicine.

“When I was young, I saw my father’s impact on his patients when we ran into them around town. They would always say hello and tell me how my dad changed their life,” she says.

“I chose ophthalmology because of the profound impact I can make on patients’ well-being through improving their vision,” she says. “I also like that it combines my strength of detail-oriented work and passion for continuity of care.”

Medical school graduates cannot practice medicine independently until they finish residency training, which takes three to seven years depending on the specialty. During their fourth year of medical school, students interview with residency programs and then rank their choices. Residency programs do the same. Then a computer matches the two. Residency matches are kept secret until a specified time. A few specialties, including urology, ophthalmology and military residencies, have early match. The rest of the nation’s fourth-year medicine students will find out their residency match results at noon EST on Friday, March 15.

Nationally, ophthalmology is considered one of the most competitive residencies. Each year, more than 650 medical students apply for some 460 residency positions.

Marcy Verduin, associate dean of students, congratulated the seniors on their residency match.

“I am so excited for our students who matched into ophthalmology and urology,” she says. “These specialties are highly competitive and so we are incredibly proud of them and excited for their journey ahead.”