Winter 1996 Mission


South

Across miles and miles of Texas

By Jim Barrett

Educational programs for physicians, dentists, nurses and allied health professionals are expanding from Laredo to the Rio Grande Valley to Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend as part of the South Texas/Border Region Health Education Initiative. Now in its second year, the initiative is a special legislative program directed by the Health Science Center to provide new learning opportunities in the health care fields for South Texans.



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Laredo has good reason to smile. The Gateway City plays host to advanced instruction in prosthodontics, the dental art of making implants, partial plates and dentures. Faculty members from the Health Science Center teach their own students and dentists at Laredo's Gateway Community Health Center about prosthodontics. Everyone seems to benefit, especially patients such as Jose Trejo, a retired employee of Laredo Community College. Students under faculty supervision performed the repairs, much to his delight.

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It's 7:30 a.m. at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen. Residents in family practice medicine meet with their instructors, including Marwin Martinez, MD (left), a staff physician at the hospital, before the daily rounds begin. The residents discuss patient cases and receive guidance from their supervising physicians. The South Texas/Border Region Health Education Initiative lent support to Valley Baptist, which devoted more than $2 million in contributions to start its program. The initiative also has helped residency programs expand in McAllen and Corpus Christi. Residency training usually lasts two to three years, at which time the medical school graduate enters independent practice. With a shortage of physicians in the Rio Grande Valley and elsewhere in the region, residency programs are especially important because about 65 percent of residents establish a practice in the community in which they complete their residency.

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Meet the Class of '98! Some members of the first class of occupational therapy students at The University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg take a bow at an autumn open house. Sixteen students began the bachelor's degree program in May 1996, and 16 more will enroll in 1997. Every student already has at least one job offer when he or she graduates and becomes licensed. Occupational therapists are in high demand and support from the South Texas/Border Region Health Education Initiative has helped establish the first occupational therapy degree program for the region.

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Miles and miles of Texas can't get in the way of education. Using telecommunications, educators in Corpus Christi, Brownsville, Laredo and the Health Science Center are providing advanced degrees and education in nursing. Linking to the Health Science Center's School of Nursing, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is offering a doctoral degree in nursing, and The University of Texas at Brownsville is offering a master's degree. In Laredo, the technology is being pressed into use to enhance the education of registered nurses. Telecommunications technology also is being used to enhance ongoing education of physicians in the regions.

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