Growing diversity in the United States has led to greater awareness of the medical needs of minority populations. Many areas of the country, however, have found difficulty with bridging language barriers in health care, specifically as it applies to Spanish speaking patients. This project attempts to understand and experience how an internal medicine clinic known as the Hispanic Clinic in a large midwestern city shapes its services to fit the specific needs of the Hispanic population it serves. Culturally appropriate care comes from community members themselves, as staff and patients alike speak Spanish and in many cases come from the same Puerto Rican heritage. Fictive kin ties are formed between all the players in this clinical encounter, allowing disadvantaged patients to gain social and cultural capital and find belonging in a world where nobody speaks their language. Staff members are understanding of their underserved population and are willing to go above and beyond for them where many other clinics will not. Constructions of health and healing not consistent with the typical biomedical model are recognized and accepted by the staff. Hispanic Clinic staff members are certain that their approach has been successful in establishing strong bonds between staff and patients, and will be expanding to serve more and more Spanish speaking patients. The various factors that contribute to the clinic’s success could potentially be replicated in clinics around the country that serve Hispanic populations, and future research is without a doubt necessary regarding this subject.


Frese, Pamela


Sociology and Anthropology


Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Community-Based Research | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Health Services Research | Medicine and Health | Social and Cultural Anthropology

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2017 Celia S. Connolly