SMI Philadelphia

 The Philadelphia Summer Medical Institute (SMI)

June 26 – July 17, 2021


During this unique three-week, urban immersion program, Christian health professions students learn to address health needs of the largely low-income, urban community in Hispanic North Philadelphia and integrate their faith and the medical practice. While providing the practical service of providing health screens and health education to the community, students are also discipled, develop their relationship with God and examine their role as Christians in healthcare. The program partners with Esperanza Health Center, a Christian, federally qualified low-income health center with three locations in North Philadelphia. Graduate students from all levels are welcome to apply. Undergraduates in a specific health care or pre-health care track may apply (juniors or seniors preferred), but should first contact the SMI director at Due to the pandemic, the program is primarily available to local students who will live in their own housing locations, but a limited amount of housing may be available for out of town students.


The application for SMI 2021 will be uploaded here sometime in early to mid December. Check back if you would like to apply. Please contact the SMI director at if you have any questions.**

Students who choose to attend SMI will participate in the entire program which includes an orientation, medical training and community training at the start of the program before beginning their daily work in teams throughout the neighborhoods. The details of the work will be determined by pandemic guidelines at the time.


The student support for participating in the SMI is up to $1450, and less if housing is not needed. Most students choose to raise support to cover this cost. If you choose to support raise, we can provide sample letters, forms and guidelines to help you, and will provide support and information throughout the process.


SMI Philadelphia offers:

  • Urban medical outreach: Students work together in teams in the urban environment, daily providing door-to-door health screens for blood sugar and blood pressure, as well as providing educational information about diabetes, hypertension, HIV, asthma and nutrition while sharing the love of Christ through conversation and prayer with those they meet. Each student team will have an interpreter (usually local community members or Esperanza staff) who translate for Spanish speaking households. Through immersion in the community and personal interaction with people in the neighborhoods, students learn first-hand the impact of social, cultural, spiritual, and economic factors on health.
  • Education: Students each have an opportunity to shadow health care providers at Esperanza and observe an effective model of Christian primary care. Third and fourth year medical students and other upper-level health care students may participate in SMI as an academic rotation, pending school approval and availability. All students receive hands-on patient experience each day
  • Mentoring: Many Christian clinicians from all fields volunteer to work alongside the student teams on a rotating basis during the outreaches, as well as share meals and even join us occasionally during downtime activities. They will also teach students on topics relevant to medical practitioners during orientation, breakout teaching sessions (“Institute Days”), and the final “Return Training.”
  • Discipleship: Small group Bible study, daily debriefing, twice-weekly teaching on biblical foundations, and daily devotions and worship are integrated throughout the program. Through this, students are able to develop their relationship with God, learn to process and respond to the issues they encounter, and help develop a vision for their own career in health care.
  • Community: As one participant said, “There are many layers of community in SMI!” and this is one of the invaluable parts of  the program. Participants live, work and fellowship together during SMI and often develop close and meaningful relationships with one another and with our faculty. Students also learn to know the local community, and work in partnership with area churches, who provide follow up to those who request it. SMI participants come to know people in the community by meeting them in their homes, in the clinic, in the churches and on the streets.

To read the student blog, visit

SMI Training Videos

Dr. Joshua Uy - July 9, 2020

Spirituality in Healthcare

Dr. Joshua Uy shares some thoughts and insights on how to address spirituality in the health care workplace. This presentation was part of the student training for SMI Philadelphia 2020.

More Messages Associated With "SMI Training"...

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Support SMI

Mailing a Check

Please include “SMI/MCO” for general donations or an SMI participant’s name in the memo line (ex. “John Doe SMI 2020”) to support a specific student. You can send a donation to SMI via check to the following address:


Tenth Presbyterian Church

1701 Delancey Street

Philadelphia, PA 19103


Church Partnerships

There is a multitude of ways area churches can get involved in SMI Philly.  If you have an idea that’s not listed here, please feel free to get in touch with the director, Holly, via the form on this page.

Hands-On Ways for Partner Churches to Serve SMI Students and Faculty

  • Prayer – Pray for SMI before, during, and after our three weeks in North Philly.
  • Meals – Provide dinner for the SMI team (either cooking at home and bringing to where the SMI team will be staying or cooking at the SMI house with SMI-purchased food).
  • Community – Provide community credibility to the SMI project by participating/partnering with SMI;  follow up with contacts made during SMI after the team has left.
  • Housing – Provide housing for out-of-town faculty (Christian healthcare professionals who join the SMI team for part or all of the three weeks to provide leadership and mentoring to the students).  This would include providing breakfast for faculty, but the SMI team would provide lunch and dinner.
  • Transportation – We would love to borrow a 12- or 15-passenger van for one or all three weeks of SMI.

SMI Philly also has a “need list” of paper products, outreach supplies, and food that we will use during the three weeks of SMI – please email the director if you are interested in donating any of these items. 

If you are interested in promoting SMI, we would be happy to send you pre-formatted electronic versions of a bulletin announcement, a brief article, and a bulletin insert that describe SMI. Please contact us through the form below.

Contact SMI Philadelphia

Please use this form to submit your questions regarding the Summer Medical Institute to the SMI Director.