The Office for Community Centered Medical Education (OCCME) at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Dental Medicine was founded in 2021 after extended advocacy from the HMS and HSDM student body and with support from Dean George Daley and HMS leadership. Drawing on the decades-long advocacy and planning work, a team took the lead in organizing a steering committee to represent diverse departments and disciplines. Throughout the first year, the team and steering committee coordinated a plan for the launch of OCCME, which was originally informed by numerous surveys, town hall meetings, interviews, and focus groups. Once this phase of information gathering and relationship-building began, the OCCME brought together a group of Harvard-affiliated faculty who have dedicated their careers to working with communities; students representing various constituencies and student groups at HMS and HSDM; and members of community-based organizations from the neighborhoods adjacent to the Longwood Medical area to participate in a six-month steering committee charged with co-creating the mission, vision, core values, and strategic plan for the first years of the OCCME.
Officially launching in August of 2021, the first activities of the OCCME were to lead a course as part of Intro to the Profession (ITP) in the first week of medical school for first-year students, and launch a framework through which students can engage in community-centered scholarly projects as part of their curricular research requirements.