The Hunt School of Dental Medicine recently provided a virtual tour of its Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic and Dental Learning Center during a Facebook Live broadcast. The clinic and the learning center are expected to open next year when the school welcomes its inaugural class.
“The Dental Learning Center, as well as the simulation laboratory, is 99% finished and ready to welcome students and faculty for state-of-the-art training,” said Richard Black, DDS, MS, dean of the Hunt School of Dental Medicine.
“The Oral Health Clinic is on schedule, maybe even ahead of schedule, to open to campus and the public in June. It’s really taking shape and will be ready for the dental equipment to be installed in February,” Black said.
The Hunt School of Dental Medicine will be the first dental school on the US-Mexico border and fourth in Texas when it opens in 2021.
Students will train in the Dental Learning Center, which will feature 80 stations equipped with simulation mannikins and a fabrication lab for crafting dental appliances using 3D scanners and advanced CAD/CAM machines.
The 38,000-square-foot Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic will feature 130 treatment chairs. It will be the clinical arm of the Hunt School of Dental Medicine and is expected to be a top dental care destination for the public as well as Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso faculty, staff, and families.
Both facilities will have the most up-to-date technology when the school welcomes its inaugural class next fall, the school said. The school will lease its equipment to ensure the Dental Clinic continues to evolve as new technology becomes available, Black said, and the technology will be representative of the school’s faculty and curriculum.
“I’ve said it many times. We will have the most innovative curriculum and technology in the United States and Canada when we open. We plan to use symptom-based, case-based teaching,” Black said.
“We’re insisting the students learn Spanish, allowing them to bridge language and cultural barriers to deliver the highest quality of oral healthcare. We’re also requiring they earn credits for a public health certificate, and we’ll be placing students in the clinic to see patients sooner than probably any other school in the nation,” he said.
Applicants who have interviewed either in person or virtually have been impressed with the school’s facilities and with El Paso, Black said. The inaugural class will include 40 students, and the applicant pool includes candidates from the El Paso region and across Texas. To help process applications, 35 El Paso dentists are participating in the interviews.
“It’s very exciting to see the dental school coming together for everyone involved in the Friends of the Dental School,” said Vernon Burke, DMD, MD, of High Desert Oral and Facial Surgery.
“As community faculty, we are happy to support the Hunt School of Dental Medicine and stand ready to help in whatever manner needed. We are especially excited to meet the class of 2025,” Burke said.
“These students are the future of dentistry for our community, and having met them during the interview process, they are an impressive group,” Burke said.
The Hunt School of Dental Medicine also is now recruiting and hiring faculty. The school is looking for nationally and internationally known candidates, Black said, and will bring experience in a wide range of fields.
Also, the Hunt School of Dental Medicine will be the first dental school to open in Texas in more than 50 years as well as the only dental school in West Texas and the Paso del Norte region.
In 2017, only 50% of El Paso residents visited a dentist, the school said. In El Paso County, there’s only one dentist for every 4,545 residents, compared to the national average of one dentists for every 1,639, the school continued. The school aims to address these disparities.
“This school is such a gift to this community and this region. It’s so exciting to see the hard work of everyone involved, and it’s almost ready to open. I’m sure this is what it felt like 11 years ago when they opened the Foster School of Medicine,” Black said.
“We could not have done any of this without the support of our foundation partners, the Paso del Norte Health Foundation and the Hunt Family Foundation,” Black said.