SMI Students

 SMI FAQs

Do you have to live near Philadelphia to participate in SMI?  No, most students come from healthcare campuses from Philadelphia or the east coast, but students also apply from all over the United States. Some years we even have healthcare students from overseas participate! Please note,  because of the pandemic we are currently predicting that we may need local participants to use their own housing, but we have secured a limited amount of housing for out-of-town students. Students who provide their own housing will have a reduced participation cost. 

If I live in Philadelphia can I live at my home/apartment and commute in to the project each day? During SMI we usually live at or near a church (often one of our partner churches) that can provide group housing. Typically, we require that all students live together in group housing in the community. Because of the pandemic, we are predicting that we will need local students to live in their own housing locations, but as mentioned above, we have secured a limited amount of housing in the community for out-of-town students.  More information will be available about housing options later this spring.

I may not be able to make it to the whole program, but can I still do SMI? Not usually, but this year there may be exceptions. A legitimate excuse from your school or work or for a wedding you are in may be an acceptable absence for a day or two, but SMI typically requires that all participants attend the entire program for multiple reasons.  Permission must be granted from the director for any absences and certain exceptions may be made, but please talk with the SMI director about your individual circumstances. We realize that the pandemic has created many changes in academic schedules, and for this reason we are trying to provide reasonable flexibility this year. Please contact the program director at smi@mcophilly.org to discuss your individual circumstances. 

Is it possible to do SMI if you are married? Yes! Even if your spouse is not formally participating in SMI it may be possible for them to visit, join us for meals, or even come on an outreach, although we don’t usually provide housing for married couples. We do want you to be present for the entire program. Talk to the program director about your individual circumstances.

I’m an upper level student. Can I get credit for a rotation by doing SMI? Yes, each year we have one or more students receive school credit by participating in SMI. Rotations are possible depending on your school requirements and availability. Esperanza Health Center can provide you with information to provide to your school, and the SMI program will make sure you have a supervisor in your discipline. If your school requires you to complete an additional week, this can be arranged. It also may be possible to use that week to help work on our post-program efficacy research. If you’re interested in this option, contact the SMI director early on in the year at smi@mcophilly.org to begin inquiring into the process. 

What’s a typical day like? A typical day begins with breakfast, early morning group devotions, announcements and then the start of the work day, unless there is a scheduled breakout teaching session some mornings. In 2021 students will either go to work at Esperanza or provide medical outreach in the community, depending on the day’s schedule. Tasks at Esperanza will help provide support to the community during the pandemic, including helping with patient portal access, gathering patient social determinants of health data and working with the center chaplaincy program. On community outreach days, there will be a brief transition for all to get in working groups and stock daily supplies, followed by group prayer before teams head out. Depending on their housing, students may either walk or drive a short distance to their locations and will be out on the streets working at neighborhood, pop-up health stations for six hours of the day, with a one hour break for lunch back at our main location. Immediately after returning at the end of the workday, the entire group participates in a debriefing led by one of the leaders or faculty members to process the day’s work, allowing the students to ask questions and share insights and discuss relevant aspects of the health education we are doing. Debriefing is typically followed by dinner, occasionally with a speaker over dinner. Finally, evenings are typically free time, although they may be used for small groups or as time to work on various tasks, including working on the research project, planning our end-of the-program banquet, making a slideshow, writing blog entries, etc. In 2021, all program activities will follow current pandemic safety guidelines, which we will have more information later this spring.

Do you have to do SMI Philadelphia in order to participate in the Albania project? (on years when the Albania project is offered) Since we are only in Albania two weeks we have a limited amount of time to learn the screens, become comfortable working door-to-door and get to know our new Albanian team members, while simultaneously learning about the new culture and surroundings in Albania. By participating in SMI Philadelphia, students are able to become adept at the functional work of the screens, and develop close relationships with their American team members. This allows them to focus more meaningfully on other aspects of working and learning in the international context. It also prepares students to work soon after arriving and allows them more ability to provide support to the Albanian students, if needed.

However, if you would like to participate in SMI Albania but are unable to participate in all three weeks of SMI Philly, an exception may be made as long as you are able to attend the SMI Philly orientation (where you will receive training) and are able to attend at least a few days of door-to-door medical outreach, ideally in the summer. A small portion of additional fundraising will be required, in addition to the Albania cost. Please contact the SMI director at smiphilly@gmail.com if you are interested in this option.

The student support for participating/cost of participation in SMI 2021 is $1450 (with housing) and $1100 if you do not need housing provided, which is tax-deductible if donors itemize deductions. Many 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, while tracking your progress each week.

Accepted Students: Please return your confirmation and release forms as soon as possible–the deadline in 2021 is April 7. You may email or mail your commitment forms (Attn: SMI Program Director, MCO/SMI, 1701 Delancey St, Philadelphia, PA 19103). You should have received these forms by email along with your acceptance letter.

Here’s an awesome video, courtesy of the SMI 2015 participants, with highlights from SMI 2015!

If you have been accepted to SMI Philly and are a member or regular attendee at Tenth Presbyterian Church, please click here to download Tenth’s Short-Term Trips Application and review information on the training sessions you will need to attend.  Questions?  Please email the SMI Program Director.

Waitlist Students: We will notify you no later than April 30, 2021 if a spot becomes available for you to attend SMI Philly, and must provide us with your decision by May 7.