Representatives from dental group presented check following tour of new facilities
The excitement and support for the opening of the Hunt School of Dental Medicine has spread throughout the Borderland region. On March 18, members of the Southern New Mexico Dental Group presented the dental school with a generous gift following a tour of the school’s facilities.
Eight members of the group made the trip from Las Cruces to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso to get a first-hand look at the Medical Sciences Building II, home of the Hunt School of Dental Medicine, and the newest building on the TTUHSC El Paso campus. At the heart of the building is the Dental Learning Center, which features 80 stations equipped with high-tech simulation manikins and a fabrication lab for crafting dental appliances using 3D scanners and advanced CAD/CAM technologies.
“We’re very excited to see the Hunt School of Dental Medicine opening so near to our offices. We’ve chosen to invest and build our business in this region, and we recognize that as we grow, we must recruit and retain qualified dentists who will remain in the area and become part of the fabric of our community,” said Josh Elliss, D.D.S., who practices at Sonoma Family Dental. “We think more dentists will choose to call this area home and it will bring more competition, but in a good way. Veteran dentists want to see the latest dental skills and procedures students are learning. And practicing dentists also have decades of experience, ‘real life’ scenarios we can introduce into their educational experience should we have the opportunity. Together, we’ll all seek to continually improve our skills and service, and the beneficiaries will be patients in Southern New Mexico and adjacent areas.”
Set to open this summer, the Hunt School of Dental Medicine will be the fourth dental school in the state of Texas and first on the U.S.-Mexico border. Its location on the Texas-New Mexico border will also benefit Southern New Mexico, especially since the state currently does not have a dental school, according to the New Mexico Dental Association. Since most graduating dentists establish practices in proximity to their schools, the Hunt School of Dental Medicine will help alleviate the shortage of dentists in the Paso del Norte and Southern New Mexico regions.
Following Thursday’s tour, the Southern New Mexico Dental Group presented Hunt School of Dental Medicine Dean Richard Black, D.D.S., M.S., with a $10,000 check, which will support the school’s most critical needs such as student scholarships and specialized equipment for the clinic. A dental simulation station was named in honor of Wendy Woodall, D.D.S., MAGD, professor and associate academic dean at the school. Sonoma Family Dental’s Dr. Elliss and Narek Akopyan, D.M.D., were both students of Dr. Woodall at the University of Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine and they continue to speak highly of her mentorship.
The Hunt School of Dental Medicine and Southern New Mexico Dental Group already have plans to collaborate to recruit students to the school and improve the future of dental care for the entire region.
“This gift demonstrates the ideal location of having a dental school in our unique Borderplex community that serves a vast West Texas region along the U.S.-Mexico border and southern New Mexico,” Dr. Black said. “While the majority of the students we are recruiting are expected to be from Texas, we anticipate many will want to call Las Cruces and Southern New Mexico home following graduation.”
The Hunt School of Dental Medicine will fill 40 spots for the inaugural class, and future classes will have 60 students. The school offers a unique education for students through culturally competent, hands-on training and an introduction to early clinical experiences among a diverse population. As part of curriculum requirements, dental students learn medical Spanish, allowing them to bridge language and cultural barriers to deliver the highest quality of oral health care.
In addition to the classroom, students will begin seeing patients as early as their first semester of school at the Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic, which will also open this summer. Students will work under the close supervision of Hunt School of Dental Medicine faculty. The 38,000 square-foot public clinic comes equipped with 130 treatment chairs and is expected to be the top dental-care destination, not only for the public, but for faculty, staff, students and their families.