Texas Tech University Health Services Center in El Paso is working to start a dental school in hopes of growing the dental community in the Borderland, and now with some extra funding from the Texas legislature.
“It’s been a chronically underserved area, there has been a 70 percent shortage of dentists compared to the national average,” Dr. Richard Lange, the president of the university, shared, “Both the House and the Senate acknowledged that it’s been an issue and they’ve agreed to help provide funding to get us off the ground.”
Dr. Lange said this funding combines with $31 million from the Hunt Foundation as well as the Paso Del Norte Foundation.
Local dentists consider this a good opportunity for potential students to start and keep their career in the Borderland, rather than leave elsewhere.
“To have all these students to go through the dental school, it would definitely bring in more offices, and more doctors to the area,” Dentist Dr. Paul Ro DDS told KTSM, “It would also be great for patients that maybe don’t have benefits or need something a little bit more cost effective.”
The proposed dental school is not just for locals, but also serves as an invitation for others outside the city to venture their careers in El Paso.
“When you have a severe shortage of doctors, nurses, and dentists… just simple access regardless of what side of the border you are on,” Dr. Lange shared, “So these are issues that don’t stop at a wall, they really are a part of a culture and a part of who we are.”
The first group of students are expected to be admitted in 2021.