Sarina Amin, of Orlando, and Briana Gapsis, of Ellicott City, Md., were ecstatic when they learned Tuesday that they had landed their preferred residency programs in ophthalmology, the first medical residencies to be announced nationwide.

Amin will be attending the University of Florida’s program, which keeps her close to home while Gapsis will be attending Nassau University Medical Center on Long Island, N.Y.

The rest of the nation’s residency matches will be announced at noon March 15. The College of Medicine will be holding a special event on that day and media outlets will be provided details in the coming weeks.

The soon-to-be doctors, members of the College of Medicine charter class, all received full scholarships to attend the school for four years beginning in 2009. The scholarships were a result of community donations. The students, who have helped shape the college ever since they arrived, will be graduating on May 17.

“Tuesday’s results are very exciting because we have a 100 percent match success rate so far for our graduating seniors,” said Dr. Deborah German, UCF vice president for medical affairs and founding dean of the medical school. “This is an impressive accomplishment for Sarina and Briana, particularly given the highly competitive nature of the field of ophthalmology.”

Medical school graduates cannot practice medicine until they have completed a residency. In their fourth year of medical school, students interview with programs and then rank their choices. Residency programs do the same, placing students in order of their top candidates. A national computer then matches students and programs – ensuring that students are placed in their highest choice with a program that has also chosen them. It’s a highly competitive process.

“Words cannot describe how excited I am,” Amin said from Orlando Health, where she is completing clerkship training in emergency medicine. Amin has earned top honors for her scholarship and research at UCF. She is one of only five students nationwide selected for residencies in this specialty at UF.  “Florida has a great program that will provide tremendous training.”

Gapsis came to UCF with a keen interest in ophthalmology because “people rely on their eyes for virtually everything. You can restore someone’s life by giving them back their vision.” She has conducted corneal research at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University, and she said she chose Nassau University’s program because the teaching hospital serves a large and diverse population and combines private and academic medicine. She was one of only four students nationwide to be selected for that program.