CUP was created in 1979 by a small number of medical students under the encouragement of Dr. Steve Spencer, a faculty member in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Spencer was a mentor for medical students who wanted their careers to include the care of the medically underserved. Founding students were particularly interested in being of service while still in medical school. Dr. Spencer assisted the students in developing the skills they would need to work with these medically underserved populations.
From this grassroots beginning—a small number of students meeting in faculty homes to discuss caring for the underserved—CUP has evolved into a substantial program involving over 90% of all students in the first two years of medical school. Most will continue their participation throughout their medical school career.