“Community” has featured in the discourse about medical education for over half a century. This discourse has explored relationships between medical education programs and communities in community-oriented medical education and community-based medical education and, in recent years, has extended to community-engaged medical education (CEME). This Perspective explores the developing focus on “community” in medical education, describes CEME as a concept, and presents examples of CEME in action at Flinders University School of Medicine (Australia), the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (Canada), and Ateneo de Zamboanga University School of Medicine (Philippines).
The authors describe the ways in which CEME, which features active community participation, can improve medical education while meeting community needs and advancing national and international health equity agendas. They suggest that CEME can redefine student learning as taking place at the center of the partnership between communities and medical schools. They also consider the challenges of CEME and caution that criteria for community engagement must be sensitive to cultural variations and to the nature of the social contract in different sociocultural settings.
The authors argue that CEME is effective in producing physicians who choose to practice in rural and underserved areas. Further research is required to demonstrate that CEME contributes to improved health, and ultimately health equity, for the populations served by the medical school.