EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Texas Tech University officials welcomed the inaugural class of the new dental school on Tuesday.
The set of 40 students will begin their education with the school in the upcoming semester as the university looks to train and supply the community with more dental health professionals. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has designated El Paso with a dental health professional shortage, according to a news release.
There is one dentist for every 4,840 residents compared to state averages of one dentist to every 2,900 residents. And, more than 50 West Texas counties have no dentists.
“With 42% of the inaugural class hailing from West Texas and border regions in Texas, our anticipation is dental students will remain in the area after graduation to serve in the communities that have supported them through their health care journey,” said Richard C. Black, dean of the Hunt School of Dental Medicine.
“Of the class, 60% consider themselves bilingual or multilingual. This will also aid our students in preparing to be culturally competent providers,” he added.
Tuesday’s announcement accompanies another as the university is receiving a $30,000 gift from the Marathon Petroleum Foundation to fund a Texas Tech Dental Oral health Clinic, which will assist low-income and uninsured patients with the cost of dental services.