ORLANDO, Fla. — Years of hard work led up to the opening of a long-awaited envelope at the University of Central Florida Friday. It was Match Day, the day when medical students learned where they'll be spending the next few years of their life in a residency program.

What You Need To Know

  • Friday was Match Day for medical students at the University of Central Florida

  • It was the day when they learned where they would be doing their residency
  • According to a report, Florida is projecting a physician shortage by 2035

  •  UCF officials say their own residency programs have grown significantly since 2014

  •  Data shows about 50 percent of graduates from their residency and fellowship programs stay in the state of Florida to work

Jordan Saag and Suzannah Patterson were full of nerves Friday morning. While Match Day is almost always marked with anxiety from students, the duo faced added pressure as they're a couple hoping to land in the same residency program.

"We just want to be together," said Patterson.

"That's the biggest thing," Saag added.

As the clock struck noon, students rushed to open their Match Day envelopes and reveal the big results. With relief, Saag and Patterson learned they both will be heading to Alabama together.

While the day was a big one for the future of the medical school students, it also held significance for the future of care for patients.

A report commissioned by the Florida Safety Net Hospital Alliance and the Florida Hospital Association is predicting a shortfall in the number of physicians needed for Florida's growing and aging population.

"Florida has a shortage already of physicians, especially in primary care, but that's projected to grow over the next decade," said Dr. Stephen Cico, Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education with UCF College of Medicine. "We will have shortages in primary care, in psychiatry, in surgery, and emergency medicine."

UCF has been working to expand their own residency programs. Currently, they have more than 600 residents and fellows that will be a part of their programs this July.

"We know that 50% of the residents who have graduated from our program stay in the state of Florida," Cico said.

Cico said UCF began establishing residency programs in 2014. Since then, it has grown from only one program to 38 accredited residency and fellowship programs. UCF officials say their programs commonly help underserved populations.