The Southern New Mexico Dental Group has given the Hunt School of Dental Medicine $10,000 to support student scholarships and specialized clinical equipment.
Eight members of the Southern New Mexico Dental Group toured the school on March 18, visiting facilities such as the Dental Learning Center, which features 80 stations equipped with simulation manikins and a fabrication lab for crafting dental appliances using 3D scanners and 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, DDS, 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,” Elliss said.
“And practicing dentists also have decades of experience, real life scenarios we can introduce into their educational experience should we have the opportunity,” he continued. “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 Texas and the first on the United States-Mexico border, benefitting southern New Mexico, which doesn’t have a dental school of its own, the school said.
Since most graduating dentists establish practices near their alma maters, the Hunt School of Dental Medicine will help alleviate the shortage of dentists in the Paso del Norte and southern New Mexico regions, the school said.
During the tour, a dental simulation station was named in honor of Wendy Woodall, DDS, professor and associate academic dean at the school. Ellis and Narek Akopyan, DMD, also of Sonoma Family Dental, were both Woodall’s students at the University of Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine.
The Hunt School of Dental Medicine and Southern New Mexico Dental Group said they 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 US-Mexico border and southern New Mexico,” said dean Richard Black, DDS, MS.
“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,” Black said.
The Hunt School of Dental Medicine will fill 40 spots for its inaugural class, and future classes will have 60 students. The school said it 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 healthcare, the school said.
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, the school said, which also will open this summer. Students will work under the supervision of the school’s faculty.
The 38,000-square-foot public clinic will feature 130 treatment chairs and is expected to be the top dental-care destination for the public, faculty, staff, students, and their families, the school said.