News and Updates

The Voice of Dentistry is Silent Again

According to the organizations own description, The Texas Dental Association is “The Voice of Dentistry”.  If we ever needed one it is right now.  Last week the final Texas state budget was available for download and a 4th Dental School in El Paso had indeed been included.  This was very disappointing from many viewpoints here are just the major ones.

1.   Meeting back in February 2017 in Austin and were repeatedly being told by lawmakers a 4th dental school had no chance of passing in this legislative session due to the expected budget shortfall.  Why were we mislead?  Were legislators getting properly educated on this issue?  Where was “The Voice of Dentistry”?

2.   A 2012 report from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board whose approval is necessary for any new school of higher education concluded, “Texas does not need another dental school at this time.  The report shows that the state has 1,281 more dentists than the established national standard of 1 dentist per 3,000 population.”  According to our own state agency a new dental school in Texas is not needed.  Please contact us if you would like a copy of the entire report.

3.   When repeatedly pointed out to Texas dentists over the last year a 4th Dental School was proposed, they were incredulous.  The September 9, 2016 American Dental Association News article, “In addressing shortage, new dental school to open in Western Texas“.  The was the first time most dentists learned of this.  Whose duty is it to inform our dentists?

4.   An Open Records request from the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners lists the number of dentists licensed by year since 2005.  It is shocking.  The population of Texas would need to grow by over 27 million to absorb that many dentists.  The Texas population grew by almost 4.8 million during that period.  You get the picture.  Why do we have to dig up the facts?

So it is obvious we do not need another dental school.  We do not need to increase the class size of current dental students.  The next question is why is this happening?  Here is what can be proved.  If you can believe it goes deeper you are likely to be right.

  1.  According to an El Paso Times article, Texas Tech to open dental school in El Paso, dated September 6, 2016, “The Hunt family, Paul L. Foster and others had already donated more than $117 million to the health sciences center, plus the $25 million announced Tuesday, Duncan said.”  Duncan is the Texas Tech University Chancellor.  He continues, “It’s made a difference for the people of El Paso, he said.  It’s made a difference for the people of this region of the country and in Mexico as well.”  Hmm.  Do the Texas taxpayers feel the same way paying $25 million for the new facility?
  2. ABC-7 posted on September 28, 2016 “Dr. Richard Black, a local dentist with an extensive resume of serving the local and state dental community, has been hired as one of the first faculty members at Texas Tech’s dental school.”  Dr. Black has recently been our Texas Dental Association’s ADA Trustee and past president of the Texas Dental Association.  Dr. Black did not mention this important issue at our Texas Dental Association meeting in May last month.  The Texas Dental Association’s delegation was addressed but was curiously silent on the issue of a 4th dental school.  Most new dentists and dental students are finding new positions very difficult to acquire andare desperately in debt.  You don’t have to dig deep to find this information just go visit the schools and talk with the students.  Maybe lawmakers, the Hunt family, and Mr. Foster could spend the money on existing students.  Certainly some would love to go to El Paso in exchange for some debt relief.  Is it really about solving problems? Fifty-two million dollars ($25 million in donations + at least $25 million taxpayer money) could go a long way.
  3. ABC-7 posted on September 29, 2016 “Lange said all dental students will be required to learn Spanish — something already required of medical and nursing students.”  Lange is president of Texas Tech.  Need more be said?

Stay informed.  Let your organizations and legislators know where you stand.  Too many times Texas dentists are kept in the dark on the real issues concerning their profession.  Thank you.

The greatest compliment you can give us is a recommendation to your friends and colleagues. Please feel free to share this piece with anyone you think would enjoy reading it.

Abby Long