SMI Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Summer Medical Institute (SMI)

June 17 – July 8, 2023



During this unique three-week, urban immersion program, Christian health professions students learn to address health needs in the largely low-income, urban community of Hispanic North Philadelphia and integrate their faith and the medical practice. Students gain valuable experience while providing the useful service of health screening, health education and improving access to care in the community. Through the program schedule and the critical input of faculty who teach, informally mentor and work alongside students, participants can develop their relationship with God and examine their role as Christians in medicine. 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 [email protected]. Although the pandemic may affect aspects of our program (healthcare personnel in all settings are still masking), we were able to do our usual work and house our participants together locally in the community in 2022.



Please contact the SMI director at [email protected] if you have any questions.  


If accepted to the Summer Medical Institute you will should be up to date on your current vaccinations, including Hepatitis B and COVID-19 and should also have a criminal background check for Pennsylvania if you live or go to school there OR for your current state of residence. It’s good to start early to collect this information during the application process so that you may have it ready to submit if accepted. 



The student support for participating in SMI is $1600 including housing and most meals. Most students choose to raise support to cover this cost. If you choose to raise funds to cover this cost, we can provide sample letters, forms and guidelines to help you, and will provide direction and information throughout the process.


SMI Philadelphia offers:

  • Urban medical outreach: In 2023 students will work together in teams in the urban environment, providing assistance for Esperanza Health Center as well as community medical outreach. They will provide health screens for blood pressure, diabetes risk, diabetic foot neuropathy and obesity and provide educational information about hypertension, diabetes, HIV and nutrition while sharing the love of Christ through conversation and prayer with those they meet (see SMI Student FAQs).
  • 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. In 2023, we expect that students will receive hands-on patient experience each working day during SMI.
  • 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, daily devotions and worship are integrated throughout the program. Through these, 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 neighborhoods, in the clinic, in the churches and on the streets.
  • SMI 2023 and the Pandemic: The pandemic may require us to adapt our program according to current guidelines for the safety of the community and the student participants. However, we were able to successfully do our normal work in 2022 with activity that involved safe patient interaction at Esperanza Health Center and in the neighborhoods. This allowed students to gain valuable patient experience, gain knowledge of the community and practice integrating their faith daily in the healthcare context. Our schedule of excellent speakers, as well as other faculty mentors were able to come teach and meet with students during the program. We expect to have typical patient contact and community work next summer, with details available later as the spring progresses. We also plan to have all students shadow our clinicians at Esperanza.

To read the student blog click here. 

SMI Training Videos

Dr. Christopher Leander - July 17, 2021

Heirs with Christ

Dr. Christopher Leander shares some insights into integrating faith in medical practice in light of the nature of our relationship with God. This lecture was part of the 2021 SMI Student training course.

More From "SMI Training Videos"

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Supporting SMI

All giving for SMI goes through the home office of Christian Community Health Fellowship (CCHF) in Memphis, TN. The Philadelphia Summer Medical Institute has 501(c)(3) status as a ministry of CCHF. A year-end tax statement from CCHF will be sent after the New Year for all SMI general and student support donations. Every gift marked for SMI will be used for SMI only and will not go to the general use of CCHF.

 Online giving is the preferred method of sending in donations.

SMI General Donations

Friends of SMI and MCO from all over the world donate to the program each year to help support the work we will be doing. These funds are separate from the Student Participant funds and help to cover the costs of running the program. 

SMI Participant Support

Each student participant is responsible to raise their own funds for the cost of the trip. The payment information on this page includes what is needed to give SMI student participant donations. Students can share this info with family and friends who might want to help support their trip.

Online Payment

Whether through the website or through PayPal, CCHF only accepts debit or credit card payments.

Via CCHF Website (

When filling out either the website form you first need to select whether you are giving One-time or Monthly in the “Support the Mission of CCHF” section of the page. After putting in your contact info, you will need to select either “SMI Philadelphia – general fund” or “SMI – designated fund” (for student support) from the drop-down Donation Purpose list. After that, in the comments box, you will need to add “SMI Giving” for general donations or the student participant name (i.e. “SMI 2023 John Doe”) if you a supporting a student.

Via PayPal

On the first screen select your donation purpose, “SMI General Fund” or “SMI designated” (for student support) from the drop-down list. You also have the option to cover the processing fees – you will see the total reflected when you add your payment info. After entering your dollar amount and selecting any optional boxes, you can either log in to your PayPal account to use your saved payment methods or, if you do not wish to log in, select the option to “Donate with a Debit or Credit Card” below the PayPal login button. On the screen where you are putting in your card information, you have the option to expand the “+ Detail Donation Purpose Here” comment box. Add “SMI Giving” for general support or the student participant name (i.e. “SMI 2023 John Doe”) for designated student donations.

Mailing a Check

We also accept donations via check. Make the check payable to “Christian Community Health Fellowship” and include either “SMI Giving” for general donations or the SMI participant’s name in the memo line (ex. “SMI 2023 John Doe”) to support a specific student. You can mail a donation for SMI at the following address (Yes! Checks go to Memphis, TN, the HQ for CCHF):

2595 Central Ave
Memphis, TN 38104

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.