Summer Medical Institute (SMI) Philadelphia

The Summer Medical Institute (SMI) Philadelphia is a three-week health outreach program sponsored by the Medical Campus Outreach (MCO) ministry of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia and Esperanza Health Center. SMI Philadelphia 2021 will take place from June 26 – July 17, 2021.

During SMI Philadelphia, a team of volunteer health professions students, together with local church members and volunteers, seek to address health and spiritual needs of the North Philadelphia community, while providing a way for students to learn to integrate their faith within their medical careers. After initial training sessions, students conduct neighborhood health outreach in teams throughout North Philadelphia communities of Kensington and Hunting Park, offering blood pressure and diabetes risk screenings, as well as nutrition and healthy lifestyle education. Through these encounters, they seek to share the love of Christ, the Great Physician, with individuals and families they meet.

Students live together in community during SMI Philadelphia, although pandemic guidelines may require most local participants to live in their own locations (some housing is available for out-of-town students). They learn first-hand the impact of social, cultural, emotional, spiritual, and economic factors on individuals’ health. Also, through interaction with clinicians and staff members at Esperanza Health Center, students have the opportunity to observe an effective model of Christian primary health care.

History of the Summer Medical Institute

The Summer Medical Institute originally started in North Philadelphia in 1992 as a partnership of Esperanza Health Center and Medical Campus Outreach. The focus of the initial SMI was to provide childhood immunizations in response to a measles outbreak that affected North Philadelphia’s Latino community. The program continued in Philadelphia for nearly 10 years before being relocated to an underserved area in Texas, near the border with Mexico.

With a renewed vision for an SMI outreach in Philadelphia, Esperanza and Medical Campus Outreach have again partnered to conduct the SMI Philadelphia during the summers of 2010 through 2019. In addition to the SMI Philadelphia, the SMI in Texas has continued, as have 13 other SMI-like programs that have been started throughout the United States and around the world.