My name is Beverly Ramos Lopez and I am a first year Public Health/Health Promotion Double Major at American University. As a participant through the Community Service Learning Program I connected my Multicultural Health class to the service I did at La Clínica del Pueblo. At the service site I have had the opportunity to work alongside the people who work in the finance office, volunteer coordinator’s office, and have assisted in outside events throughout the community in local health fairs. As a volunteer I have assisted in any ways I can in different parts of the clinic, even with patients and for the people of the community I sometimes serve as a translator.
One of the local health fairs I volunteered at was at La Union Mall which is in an area that is predominantly populated by Hispanics and Latinos. This event was very eye-opening to me because it showed me how different areas in our community could be so diverse and require other healthcare needs that we are not always aware of. I was able to promote the attendance of the people at the fair informing them about the event in Spanish in order to set aside the cultural barriers that are often what creates conflict when seeking healthcare. My expectations were to really assist in any aspect and area that I could in the clinic especially because it is in an area that has high demand for healthcare needs. I expected them to need help with organization in the office since they are now expanding to a new location, leading them to need help moving out.
The experience has truly met my expectations as I have learned not only how to interact more easily with the members of the community, but also developed skills in how to work in a quick-paced environment that needs efficient work in a small amount time. Throughout my service experience I have been surprised by the way I am treated in the clinic which is in a very respectful and welcoming manner. Not that that is not what I expected from a clinic, but it is just because I thought the workers would be so preoccupied it would be difficult to interact with them as much. However, the service experiences showed me the opposite as everyone is very kind and friendly making me feel optimistic about wanting to continue my service there, I just feel very appreciated it and it has allowed me to feel more motivated.
The connections that have been made to my class are that it is really crucial for healthcare providers to become culturally competent if they are really wanting to aid their target population. I observe this by how different the setup of the clinic is compared to others, the walls are colorful not white, the patients are always greeted warmly by the front desk instead of in a rushed and cold manner, the patients are known and feel cared for at a more personal level, and the space is very welcoming. All this matters in a Hispanic and Latino community because they are a population that is collectivistic and La Clínica del Pueblo understands that so they aim to be culturally appropriate which leads them to have patients want to come back and learn that it is important to care for themselves and their families in a preventative manner and to not seek only after they get sick. My biggest learning take-away from participating in my service is that health is not just about whether someone can access healthcare services, it is about the actual patient and their individual aspects of life that are not always consider. The smallest detail neglected to be acknowledged by the healthcare provider can actually be one of the causes which means in the healthcare field there needs to be more work done then just learning how to diagnose what is seen.