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Frontera de Salud

Frontera de Salud is an interdisciplinary student-run, Hearst Foundation endowed, 501(c) (3) healthcare service program for students, faculty volunteers and healthcare providers to bring medical and healthy living services to underserved areas of Texas. Frontera de Salud provides education to students, allows students to develop skills in practicing scientifically based yet compassionate preventive patient care and benefits communities by connecting students, patients, community health programs and other resources. The students lead in deciding what activities to participate in and which organizations to collaborate with.

Frontera de Salud UTMB Facebook.



Clinical Service

  • Identify community healthcare needs by developing sustainable, preventive healthcare programs tailored to the needs of the local underserved community.
  • Provide additional competencies in primary healthcare settings.

Humanistic View

  • Expose students to the most underserved and disadvantaged communities in order to engender empathy, compassion, and a commitment to service.

We are pleased to introduce our new Faculty Associate and Medical Sociologist, Joseph Kotarba, PhD.

Joseph A. Kotarba, PhD, is Professor of Sociology at Texas State University, where he directs the Music Across the Life Course Project. He also serves as Lead Ethnographer and Evaluation Researcher for the Institute for Translational Sciences at the University of Texas Medical Branch-Galveston. He received the George Herbert Mead Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction, and the Society’s Charles Horton Cooley Award for Best Book in the Symbolic Interactionist Tradition for Baby Boomer Rock ‘n’ Roll Fans (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013). He is currently studying the experience of music in aging, the experience of music during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the culture of the translational science movement. Dr. Kotarba is formulating a general theory of Frontier Medicine that describes novel health care delivery--beyond routine, organizational, bureaucratic and urban modalities--heavily harmonious with local culture. His latest book is Music in the Course of Life (Routledge, 2023). He received his doctorate from the University of California, San Diego.

Dr. Kotarba’s WesTex Culture of Health is a study to establish a program for developing an ethnographic understanding of health and health care delivery in the Presidio sector of West Texas. This ongoing study will focus on three distinct topics:

  • An evaluation of the mission activities of the Frontera de Salud student organization at UTMB
  • An examination of everyday health care delivery In Presidio involving the Big Bend regional Medical Center and other groups
  • An appreciation for the local cultural features and resources of the Presidio sector impacting both illness and (medical and indigenous) health care delivery.

Report for the Hearst Foundation from Frontera de Salud

Frontera de Salud (FdS) expresses its gratitude to the Hearst Foundation for supporting its mission, students, programs, and activities. FdS partnered with Seeding Galveston, Holland House, and various student organizations to deliver several events aimed at improving the health of the Galveston community and the frontier region of Presidio, Tx. This report highlights the events supported by the Hearst Fund, including our goals, achievements, challenges, and future plans. This report also includes how we measured the effectiveness of these activities, what we learned, and how we intend to use this information. Download report here.

President’s Cabinet Award 2022-2023

Frontera de Salud would like to express our gratitude to the President’s Cabinet Award for furthering our collaborations with Seeding Galveston and Holland House by providing us with $6,500 with build, plant, and maintain five large garden beds at Holland House. Please check out our Mission page for updates on our progress.

Student Research Project at Holland House

The FdS research director, Sean O’Leary, MS2, proposed a research project that was submitted and received IRB approval, as well as approval from Odelia Williams, Director for Holland House. Activities are currently underway and are expected to be completed by the end of the academic year.

Authors: Sean O’Leary, Tuan Pham, Alejandra Reyna, Jacob Coronado

The Purpose of the Study:

Evaluation study of how well Holland House, a housing complex for eligible low socioeconomic families, persons with disabilities, and senior citizens, is doing for its residents now after the COVID-19 pandemic and the return of community engagement with UTMB students.

Mission Trip to Presidio, TX – December 2022

The Frontera de Salud Big Bend Medical Mission Trip took place from December 17, 2022 to December 23, 2022, and it was an incredible experience for all those involved. The medical mission trip traveled to Brewster and Presidio County, and it was filled with activities that were both educational and rewarding. Visit our Mission page for more details.

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