This year, close to 18,000 family and friends across the globe logged onto Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso’s Facebook and YouTube pages to celebrate the graduation of students from the university’s three schools.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of traditional Spring 2020 commencement ceremonies at TTUHSC El Paso, each student was highlighted during virtual ceremonies with an individual photo slide that included their hometown, any honors and distinctions, and post-graduate plans. The goal was to make the experience memorable for students and their families and expand participation even beyond those who would normally attend to cheer on their graduates.
With social distancing guidelines in place, commencement ceremonies for the Hunt School of Nursing and GSBS were streamed on Facebook on May 9, while the Foster School of Medicine’s ceremony streamed on May 22. All three ceremonies have been archived and can be viewed on-demand at.
Foster School of Medicine
The 88-member class of 2020 includes 16 medical students who matched to residency programs in El Paso; 15 of those matched to programs at TTUHSC El Paso. This is just shy of the record 18 Foster School of Medicine students who matched to residencies in El Paso in Spring 2019.
Medical residents often remain in the region in which they are trained, fulfilling the Foster School of Medicine’s mission to increase the number of practicing physicians in the El Paso region.
Fifty-three percent of this year’s graduates matched to residencies in Texas, and 57% will enter residencies in primary care specialties.
Servando Rivera is a native El Pasoan and proud graduate of the Foster School of Medicine’s Class of 2020 who will begin a residency in emergency medicine at TTUHSC El Paso. He said it means the world to him to have the opportunity to practice medicine where his family lives.
“Catering to the border community has always been a priority to me, and now the opportunity to stay here has made my dream come true,” said Rivera, who earned a Master of Science from the GSBS prior to enrolling in the Foster School of Medicine.
When the Foster School of Medicine opened its doors in 2009, there was a 75% shortage of physicians in El Paso compared to the national average. Since that time, the medical school has graduated more than 520 students, and the comparative shortage of physicians in El Paso has been reduced to 50%.
From 2009 to 2019, the number of doctors in El Paso grew by 51%, from 1,068 to 1,613, according to the most recent data available.
Hunt School of Nursing
For the second consecutive year, the Hunt School of Nursing’s graduating class received the DAISY In Training Award from the DAISY (Diseases Attacking the Immune System) Foundation for their important roles in local hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic. The DAISY Foundation was created to honor and celebrate the care and compassion of direct care nurses, nursing faculty and nursing students.
The Hunt School of Nursing’s Winter 2019 graduating class received the award after assisting at area hospitals following the Aug. 3, 2019, mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart.
The nursing school’s commencement honored 75 graduates of the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) program and 11 graduates of the R.N. to B.S.N. program. Four students made university history as the first to graduate from the Hunt School of Nursing with a Master of Science in Nursing.
Students in the Accelerated B.S.N. program take up to 17 credit hours per semester for four successive semesters. The rigorous program allows students to graduate in 16 months after working through a curriculum designed for cross-disciplinary collaboration. This is the only accelerated nursing program in the region.
To date, the Hunt School of Nursing has graduated more than 600 students with 90% of those graduates staying in the region. The school of nursing currently has partnerships with every hospital in the El Paso community, which includes both clinical rotation opportunities and job placements post-graduation.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse for the vital role they play in providing health services. TTUHSC El Paso will join the WHO in a year-long effort to celebrate the work of nurses.
Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
The GSBS honored 23 graduates of the Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences program and 10 graduates of the school’s post-baccalaureate certificate program.
The mission of the GSBS is to educate the next generation of scientists and health-related professionals by providing a dynamic research environment. The GSBS is oriented to satisfy the learning needs of a multicultural group of students by fostering creativity and discovery.
Most GSBS graduates attend medical or dental school or pursue their Ph.D. after graduation.