Dr. Kristy Cromblin knew that as the descendant of Alabama sharecroppers and the first person in her family to go to college, making it to medical school might seem like an improbable dream. Her parents watched in proud disbelief as she inched closer to that goal, enrolling in a medical school in Barbados and enlisting in the military with plans to serve one day as a flight surgeon.
Then came an unexpected hurdle: A contentious divorce led Cromblin to take seven years away from medical school to care for her two sons. In 2012, she returned for her final year, excited to complete her exams and apply for residency, the final step in her training.
But no one had told Cromblin that hospital residency programs, which have been flooded with a rising number of applications in recent years, sometimes use the Electronic Residency Application Service software program to filter out various applications, whether they’re from students with low test scores or from international medical students. Cromblin had passed all her exams and earned her M.D., but was rejected from 75 programs. In the following years, as she kept applying, she learned that some programs filter out applicants who graduated from medical school more than three years earlier. Her rejection pile kept growing. She is now on unemployment, with $250,000 in student loans.