TTUHSC sets up a ‘poverty simulation’ for new medical & dental students

EL PASO, TX (KTSM) – With around 200 first-year students from the Foster School of Medicine and Hunt School of Dental Medicine, the school puts students through a “poverty simulation” to gain experience what some go through as part of an educational workshop at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.

Dental and medical students experience this simulation workshop to better understand what the 18.8% of El Pasoans living in poverty go through nearly every day. As one might expect, poverty is a major obstacle to accessing routine health and dental care.

The poverty simulation is an innovative experiential learning addition to the introductory component of the Society, Community, and the Individual (SCI) course that TTUHSC El Paso medical and dental students take during a three-week period in July informally known as “immersion.” As the name indicates, students at the two schools begin their academic journey with an immersion in the unique lifestyle, culture and language of the Borderplex community. Currently, nearly 40% of Hunt School of Dental Medicine students and 20% of Foster School of Medicine students hail from El Paso or West Texas counties with culture similar to that of the Borderplex.

The immersion courses – Society, Community and the Individual, and Conversational/Clinical Spanish – are the first courses medical and dental students complete before they begin studying medicine and dentistry in August to kick off “Year One” at TTUHSC El Paso.

Immersion has been part of curriculum since the medical school opened in 2009. The new Hunt School of Dental Medicine also adopted immersion into its curriculum, and its inaugural class completed the courses in summer 2021.

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