The Influence of the STORM Program and Other Elective Experiences During the Summer Between the First and Second Year on Medical Students' Career Interests


  • Mara Cunningham
  • Justin McCartney University of Kansas School of Medicine-Salina
  • William F. Cathcart-Rake, M.D. University of Kansas School of Medicine-Salina



career intentions, pre-clerkship medical education, mentorship, elective experiences


Introduction. The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of the Summer Training Option in Rural Medicine (STORM) program and other elective experiences during the summer between the first and second pre-clerkship years of medical school on medical students’ career intentions.

Methods. A retrospective voluntary and anonymous cohort study was conducted by distributing an email survey to the 211 second-year medical students at the University of Kansas School of Medicine (KUSM). The survey consisted of a variety of questions regarding their recent summer break elective experiences.

Results. Eighty-nine students (42.2% response rate) completed the survey; 21 respondents participated in the STORM program. Important factors influencing the choice of an elective included, working one-on-one with an educator, hands-on experiences, and receiving academic credit. Sixty-seven respondents (75.3%) concluded that their experience met their expectations, 50 (56.2%) concluded that their experience helped solidify their career goals, while 20 (22.5%) concluded that their experience made them question their career goals. Eleven respondents (12.4%) wished they had participated in a different summer experience, and 16 respondents (18.0%) changed their career plans after their summer experience.

Conclusions. A break between first and second years of medical school allowed students to explore career options; such experiences may ignite a particular passion, solidify an already determined specialty choice, or dissuade a student from pursuing a particular career pathway. Medical school affirmation of the importance of significant, sustained, and student-chosen opportunities to work one-on-one with a mentor and engage in hands-on learning during the pre-clerkship years is crucial. The STORM program was one elective option that delivered on students’ expectations.


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Original Research

How to Cite

Cunningham, M., McCartney, J., & Cathcart-Rake, W. (2022). The Influence of the STORM Program and Other Elective Experiences During the Summer Between the First and Second Year on Medical Students’ Career Interests. Kansas Journal of Medicine, 15(3), 311-318.