These dental students may know the drill better than the rest

The only way to master use of the dental drill is to use it. That’s why students at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine begin drilling during their first semesters, which is an untraditional approach.

Dr. Terese Andino, MBA.Dr. Terese Andino, MBA.

Hunt, which opened in 2021 on the U.S.-Mexico border, is the only dental school in North America that offers students clinical experience during their first semesters.

At other schools, students often don’t often see patients until their third year of study, Dr. Terese Andino, MBA, an assistant director of general dentistry at Hunt, said in a university press release dated February 5.  

Since joining Hunt last August, Andino has worked to get students as much hands-on experience as possible so they can help patients feel confident in their skills, which also will help them feel relaxed while they are in the dental chair.

Recently, survey results revealed that about 75% of dental school graduates felt moderately prepared to treat patients. This finding supports studies that have shown that students who gain clinical experience earlier show higher competence and confidence in treating patients after graduation, according to the release.  

Finessing the drill comes with other benefits as wellBy building students' skills early, they accumulate more clinical hours than their peers at other schools and address a need in the community. Spending more time at the Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic, where students practice their skills, means the community has greater access to low-cost dental treatment, according to the story.

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