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Home | Tag Archives: Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso

Tag Archives: Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso

Paul L. Foster School of Medicine Students learn where they will go for residency

After four arduous years of medical school, 88 graduating students from the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine found out Friday, March 20, where they will serve their medical residencies.

Friday was Match Day 2020, when thousands of graduating medical students across the country found out where they will continue their training. 

Normally, Match Day involves a big gathering with family and friends, but those plans were changed nationwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Foster School of Medicine graduates were notified of their matches via email and honored on social media.

The class of 2020 includes 16 medical students who matched to residency programs in El Paso; 15 of those matched with Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso. This is just shy of the record 18 Foster School of Medicine students who matched to residencies in El Paso in Spring 2019.

Medical residents often remain in the region in which they are trained, so this is a good sign for fulfilling the Foster School of Medicine’s mission to increase the number of practicing physicians in the El Paso region.

Richard D. Brower, M.D., interim associate dean in the Foster School of Medicine’s Office of Student Affairs, said Foster School of Medicine students are heading into highly competitive specialties and prestigious programs nationwide.

“This year’s residency match outcomes for the Foster School of Medicine are outstanding,” Brower said. “We couldn’t be more proud of this graduating class, and we wish them continued success and happiness. These students are preparing to graduate and advance into residency under extraordinary circumstances related to a global viral pandemic — circumstances fraught with uncertainty and concern. Yet, we are confident in their preparation and know that they will rise to the challenges ahead.” 

Brower said 53% of this year’s graduates matched to residencies in Texas, and 57% will enter residencies in primary care specialties.

For Natalia Luna, who is from El Paso, the opportunity to do her residency at TTUHSC El Paso means the world to her.

“It means that I get to stay home, with my family and pets, where I know I will have lots of support,” said Luna, who will train in a psychiatry residency. “I already know my future coworkers, so I know that I will work very well with them. I also get along with my classmates who matched with me, so I’m excited.”

Jacob Winters, president of the Foster School of Medicine’s class of 2020, matched into the ophthalmology program at the University of Pittsburgh.

“While this is a time of many mixed emotions — nervousness, excitement, pride — we are ultimately humbled to embark on this next adventure and honored to assume the title of ‘physician’ for our patients,” Winters said. “Our class is beyond grateful for the support of the El Paso community that many of us will continue to serve for years to come.”

From 2009 to 2019, the number of doctors in El Paso grew by 51 percent, from 1,068 to 1,613, according to the most recent data available. A major turning point for El Paso’s health care system occurred when the first class of 40 students was admitted into the Foster School of Medicine. The medical school has graduated more than 520 students since its opening.

When the Foster School of Medicine opened, there was a 75% shortage of physicians in El Paso compared to the national average. Since that time, the shortage has been reduced to 50%.

The medical school is named for El Paso businessman Paul L. Foster, who donated $50 million to help create the school. His gift also has funded the tuition of more than 140 medical students, known as the Foster Scholars.

UTEP, TTUHSC El Paso Increase Opportunities for Collaborative Research, Education

On Monday, University of Texas at El Paso and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso officials renewed their commitment to work collaboratively and expand opportunities for biomedical and health science research between both institutions. 

UTEP President Heather Wilson and TTUHSC El Paso President Richard Lange, M.D., M.B.A., recently signed an agreement in which research-oriented faculty at both universities will engage in joint research projects that involve neuroscience, drug therapies, cancer prevention, and health disparities to advance health-related research, education and health care practices in the Paso del Norte region.

To facilitate these projects, each institution has taken steps to streamline their institutional review board (IRB) process, which reviews research proposals and provides oversight of research studies involving human subjects. 

“Our faculty identified some barriers to working together and showed us how to fix them,” UTEP President Heather Wilson said. “Rick Lange and I each believe UTEP and TTUHSC El Paso should be close partners in research and teaching. This is a good step toward deepening our partnership.”

“TTUHSC El Paso and UTEP share a mission of eliminating health care disparities in the Paso del Norte region while researching treatments for diseases that affect our border population,” said TTUHSC El Paso President Richard Lange. “Collaborative research helps open the door for discoveries that will benefit the health of our community, and we look forward to a strong partnership between our universities.”

UTEP and TTUHSC El Paso each will appoint a faculty or staff member to serve on the IRB of the other institution. Following guidelines implemented by The University of Texas System, one institution’s IRB can serve as the IRB of record. IRB administrators will meet regularly to share information and address and solve problems. They also will participate in preparatory sessions to determine which institution’s IRB will be used for each research project.

Both universities plan to conduct joint educational campaigns to raise awareness among faculty and researchers on how to collaborate and secure IRB review on joint projects.

TTU System Chancellor to Honor TTUHSC El Paso Associate Professor With Distinguished Teaching Award

Texas Tech University System Chancellor Tedd L. Mitchell, M.D., and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso President Richard Lange, M.D., M.B.A., will present the annual Chancellor’s Council Distinguished Teaching Award to Thwe Htay, M.D., an associate professor in the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine.

“I am very grateful to be a recipient of the Chancellor’s Council Distinguished Teaching Award,” Dr. Htay said. “This award is a great honor. It raised me to another level with being included in a very distinguished group of educators. This moment is the highlight of my career as a physician and educator. It also motivates me to do better for our learners and also for the institution.”

The awards are made possible through philanthropic gifts to the Chancellor’s Council. Award recipients each receive a $5,000 stipend and an engraved medallion.

Dr. Htay has taught medical students and internal medicine residents at TTUHSC El Paso for four years. Prior to arriving at TTUHSC El Paso, Dr. Htay was a faculty member at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio where she taught medical students and residents, and mentored junior faculty for 10 years.

She also served as a clinical faculty member of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at Odessa in the early 2000s.

“I’ve learned so much practicing medicine in the last two decades,” Dr. Htay said. “I have a motivation to share those experiences with the future generation of physicians and medical students. Some of those experiences cannot be fully described in textbooks or medical journals. All patients I have seen over the past two decades taught me many lessons to be passed along to our students.

“After all those years, teaching became my passion,” Dr. Htay said. “It is a very stimulating experience. I love the school environment because it is very intellectual, diverse and motivating. I love working with medical students because they are energetic and full of endless possibilities. They are our future. They will be saving thousands of lives in the years to come, where I could only save a few.”

Dr. Htay stays clinically active by seeing patients at the Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso internal medicine outpatient clinic with residents. She also serves as director of the clinical skills course for first- and second-year medical students.

As clinical skills course director, she is responsible for curriculum design, course development, grading, and training standardized patients and faculty. Dr. Htay also provides mentoring and career counseling to students and residents.

The Chancellor’s Council is a giving society that supports Chancellor Mitchell’s priorities of impacting student lives through scholarships, recognizing faculty achievement, and encouraging excellence across the TTU System and its four component institutions: Texas Tech UniversityTexas Tech University Health Sciences CenterAngelo State University and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.

More on Dr. Htay

Medical School: Institute of Medicine 1, Yangon, Myanmar – 1994

Residency: Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at Odessa Internal Medicine Residency Program – 2000

American Board of Medical Specialties: American Board of Internal Medicine

State Rep. Blanco presents Resolution to Honor Paul L. Foster School of Medicine’s 10-Year Anniversary

To commemorate the 10- year anniversary of the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, State Rep. César Blanco presented a resolution to Richard Lange, M.D., M.B.A., Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso) president.

“This medical school is not only contributing to the economic activity of our city, but directly serves to improve the physician shortage that West Texas faces,” said Representative Blanco during the presentation.

“Thanks to the Foster School of Medicine, talented students from the Paso del Norte region with a passion for medicine and serving the community have the option to apply for medical school in their hometown.”

Blanco, who represents TTUHSC El Paso in the Texas State House of Representatives, has been a key supporter of the Foster School of Medicine. His resolution comes one month before TTUHSC El Paso holds the medical school’s 10th anniversary celebration, “A Red Tie Affair for a White Coat Occasion,” on February 28.

“We are thankful for Representative Blanco and the entire El Paso delegation for their continued support of the students, faculty, and staff at the Foster School of Medicine,” Dr. Lange said. “This resolution not only recognizes the tremendous work being done at TTUHSC El Paso, but also celebrates the positive impact we are making to the health care and education in our region.”

Opening its doors in 2009 with an inaugural class of 40 students, the Foster School of Medicine became the first medical school located on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Since graduating from the school, more than 500 alumni are either currently practicing physicians or in residency programs throughout the United States.

The Foster School of Medicine has 403 students currently enrolled, most of whom have contributed several thousand hours in community service through its student-run clinics and volunteer programs.

The school continues to be a pioneer in health education through a curriculum focused on training students in simulation labs with high-tech mannequins, beginning clinical rounds within the first year of study, and requiring all students to learn medical Spanish.

Gift by El Pasoans Ed and Margie Escudero to support Hunt School of Nursing Scholarships

During a special event on campus earlier this month, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso announced a gift from El Pasoans Ed and Margie Escudero in support of scholarships for students of the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing.

The Escuderos have strong ties to the Texas Tech University System and the El Paso community. Margie Escudero is a proud graduate of the TTUHSC School of Nursing in Lubbock and a member of the President’s Development Council for TTUHSC El Paso.

Ed Escudero is the president and CEO of High Desert Capital LLC. He and his wife Margie raised their two children in El Paso.

The gift announcement event was held during new-student orientation for the Hunt School of Nursing.

“Ed and I are very excited to be able to give back,” Margie said, speaking to the gathering of students taking the first steps of their nursing careers. “I grew up in El Paso, I went to the TTUHSC School of Nursing, and I love being a nurse.”

Margie started her career as a critical care nurse and also worked as a school nurse for the El Paso Independent School District.

“Nursing for me was so fulfilling, and I am so happy to see that you have chosen this career,” Margie said, addressing the incoming students. “What you are going to experience will be amazing.”

Margie thanked her husband for supporting her love of nursing and her love for the Texas Tech community.

Speaking to the students, Ed shared his and Margie’s background as first-generation U.S. citizens and first-generation high school and college graduates.

“I will tell you that this is the game changer for us — education,” Ed said. “I promise you in the future that you will be here giving the donations, and you’ll be able to give back to your community — but it starts with an amazing education.”

Hunt School of Nursing Dean Stephanie Woods, Ph.D., R.N., thanked the Escuderos for their support. She said the school’s nursing students’ success would not be possible without support from community leaders like the Escuderos.

“Scholarships mean everything. It is one thing to be academically qualified to get into the nursing program, but it is another thing to have the financial resources to finish the program,” Dr. Woods said.

Author:  – TTUHSC El Paso

TTUHSC El Paso 2019 SARP Symposium winners announced

The Paul L. Foster School of Medicine’s 2019 Scholarly Activity and Research Program (SARP) Symposium was held late last month, now the winners have been announced.

“We would like to congratulate all of our poster presenters for doing a wonderful job on their SARP requirements and for making this year’s SARP symposium a great success,” said Carolyn D. Mack, D.B.A., associate director for the SARP program in the Department of Medical Education. “Also, a big thank you to all the SARP mentors, faculty reviewers, poster judges and monitors.”

SARP co-directors are Curt Pfarr, Ph.D., college master and professor of cell and molecular biology in the Department of Medical Education, and Marine Coue, Ph.D., college master and professor of cell and molecular biology and genetics in the Department of Medical Education.

Forty-six students presented posters to a panel of faculty judges on November 20-21.

Six students were selected to receive $1,000 travel awards to attend national-level meetings or conferences.

The SARP Symposium $1,000 travel award winners are (in alphabetical order):

  • Liliana Bonilla, MS3, “Early Cardiometabolic Risk: The Prevalence of Compensatory Hyperinsulinemia in U.S. Populations,” mentor: David P. Cistola, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Madison Craft, MS3, “The Use of Hybrid Autograft and Allograft for Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction Gives Outcomes Equivalent to Autograft Alone,” mentor: William Weiss, M.D.
  • Kristina Flores, MS2, “Nimbolide Inhibits Pancreatic Cancer by Altering the Phosphoproteome,” mentor: Ramadevi Subramani, Ph.D.
  • James Fong, MS3, “Replacing Didactic Lectures with Integrated Case-based Sessions Improves Student Outcomes in an Integrated Pre-clerkship Curriculum,” mentor: Diana Pettit, Ph.D.
  • Nikhil Jaiswal, MS2, “Nanoparticle-Based Delivery of IL-4 pDNA for Counteracting Neuroinflammation,” mentor: Huanyu Dou, M.D.
  • Rose Yeh, MS2, “Combining a Conditional Suicide Gene with CCR5 Knockout for Anti-HIV Gene Therapy,” mentor: Himanshu Garg, Ph.D.

Five additional students rounded out the top poster presenters for the symposium. These students are (in alphabetical order):

  • Madeline Dixon, MS2, “Understanding the Mechanism of Pregnancy Induced Risk Reduction of Breast Cancer,” mentor: Rajkumar Lakshmanaswamy, Ph.D.
  • Christopher Pastrana, MS2, “Generations of In Vitro Granuloma for Mycobacterium Studies,” mentor: Jorge Cervantes, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Natalie Satterfield, MS2, “Histone Modifications and CXCR4 Chemokine Receptor Signaling in Hyperglycemic DRG Neurons,” mentor: Munmun Chattopadhyay, M.Sc., Ph.D.
  • Kelsey Van-Noy, MS3, “The Process of Prescribing New Medication in Children and Adolescents: How Does Patient Education Regarding Side Effects Affect Adherence?” mentor: Laurel Payne, M.D.
  • Kevin Woods, MS3, “Cardiac Safety and Clinical Efficacy of High Dose Domperidone for Long-Term Treatment of Gastroparesis,” mentor: Richard McCallum, M.D.
Foster School of Medicine students presented their research during the 2019 SARP Symposium.

Author:    – TTUSCH El Paso

TTUHSC invites El Pasoans to annual Cookies, Cocoa and Holiday Cheer Event

To kick off the holiday season, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso’s fifth annual Cookies, Cocoa and Holiday Cheer celebration will offer free treats, a light show and health care information for families.

All activities will be free, including parking in campus lots, thanks to a sponsorship by El Paso Electric.

This year, 93.1 KISS FM radio hosts Mike Martinez and Tricia Martinez of the “Mike and Tricia Mornings” show will emcee the event.

For the first time, this year’s festivities will include a mascot dance-off featuring a few local favorites, including the U.S. Border Patrol’s Agent F.I.N.O., El Paso Electric’s Power Pack, Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Blue Bear, Peter Piper Pizza’s Rocky and GECU’s Dru Blue.

The light show is presented by the same team previously behind the famous Fred Loya holiday light show. Shortly after, TTUHSC El Paso’s seasonal campus lights will be turned on for the first time.

Attendees can visit our selfie station throughout the evening and post their festive photos using the hashtag #ttuhscep.

Special guests will include Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, the Grinch, Belle and the Snowflake Princesses. Photo booths will provide free photos with Santa Claus and other special guests.

In addition to a performance from special holiday guests, the Jefferson High School Silver Fox marching band will take the stage.

TTUHSC El Paso’s student organizations will offer blood pressure screenings and representatives from the Texas Medicaid Waiver program will provide free cancer screening vouchers and vaccine vouchers for those who qualify.

Cookies, hot cocoa and other treats will be provided by Crave Catering, and the first 250 guests will receive reusable TTUHSC El Paso totes.

When: 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6. Light show will begin at approximately 7 p.m.

Where: TTUHSC El Paso campus, Medical Education Building (MEB) lawn, 5001 El Paso Drive

WestStar announced as Decade Scholarship Sponsor for Foster School of Medicine’s 10-Year Anniversary Celebration

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso and WestStar announced Wednesday their $25,000 scholarship contribution for recruiting local students back to El Paso or who are from the area and want to pursue a degree at the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine.

The local bank is contributing the amount to the Decade Scholarship as a major sponsor of TTUHSC El Paso’s “Red Tie Affair For A White Coat Occasion” celebration on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020.

The event celebrates the 10-year anniversary of the Foster School of Medicine, which opened its doors to an inaugural class of 40 students in 2009. With help from community supporters like WestStar, the Foster School of Medicine is educating the future of health care and has graduated 422 students to date.

“Supporting educational opportunities at the Paul L. Foster School of Medline provides medical students a path to success that will impact future generations,” said WestStar Chairman and CEO Rick Francis.

WestStar joins Peter Piper Pizza and GECU as premiere sponsors of the February celebration.

WestStar is a Borderplex bank that is not only an active economic driver serving our Paso del Norte region but is deeply committed to community involvement. WestStar’s officers serve on over 75 boards and committees and team members contribute over 3,000 volunteer hours in numerous and varied community development efforts and philanthropic causes.

All event proceeds will go toward medical student scholarships with a focus on recruiting students from El Paso and across West Texas who will remain or return to the region to serve their community. The Foster School of Medicine was established to serve the mission of improving access to quality health care in the Borderland.

For information on the “Red Tie Affair For A White Coat Occasion” celebration, visit the 10-year anniversary website. Also on the site is an opportunity for alumni of the Foster School of Medicine to share memories and experiences during their time as medical students.


TTUHSC El Paso Students train community members for bleeding emergencies

Nearly three dozen TTUHSC El Paso students volunteered to offer several free workshops around El Paso in recent weeks to teach community members how to use tourniquets to prevent life-threatening blood loss from injuries.

One of these Lone Star Survival Texas Tourniquet Training events took place at the Fountains at Farah in East-Central El Paso on October 18, a short distance from the Walmart where a mass shooting on Aug. 3 took the lives of 22 people and injured more than two dozen.

“It’s important for me to get the community to know these simple lifesaving techniques like tourniquet placement and CPR, because often the general public doesn’t know what to do,” said Tori Oakes, a second-year medical student at the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine.

This is the second year Oakes has trained community members in bleeding control through the Lone Star Survival program. She said participants, based on what they’ve seen on TV or in movies, often think stopping massive amounts of blood loss is as easy as grabbing a belt and tightening it on an arm or leg.

“You see what’s going on in the movies and it’s completely different,” Oakes said. “If you don’t have a tourniquet, it’s actually more important to place pressure on the wound than to ‘MacGyver it’ with a belt, because a belt actually doesn’t apply enough pressure and just continues to allow it to bleed.”











Tourniquet training includes four basic steps:

  1. Identify heavy bleeding.
  2. Call 911.
  3. Hold direct pressure.
  4. Apply a tourniquet if bleeding doesn’t stop.

A tourniquet can be purchased online for about $10 to $15. They are also included in some first aid and survival kits popular with campers, hikers and others who work and play outdoors.

Aaron Murillo-Ruiz, a first-year Foster School of Medicine student, said knowledge of bleeding control and tourniquet application is needed in urban environments, where car accidents are common, and, unfortunately, mass shootings seem to be on the rise.

The training is also a must for El Pasoans who enjoy hiking in the Franklin Mountains and other wilderness areas in the region, he said. A hiker who slips on a log and is cut by a sharp branch, or who experiences a severe fall resulting in a compound fracture, may need to stop life-threatening bleeding until help arrives.

“Applying a tourniquet is a relatively simple method that can be used any time someone is bleeding and less aggressive approaches (i.e., pressure alone) fail,” Murillo-Ruiz said. “The knowledge we are imparting on our community members is essential, because being prepared for an unexpected crisis can potentially be life-saving.”

To see a list of upcoming bleeding control workshops throughout Texas, visit the Lone Star Survival: Bleeding Control Facebook page at this link.

Author:  – TTUHSC El Paso

CPRIT Awards $1.9 Million Grant to TTUHSC El Paso

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) has awarded four new grants to the Texas Tech University System totaling over $6 million, including a $1.9 million grant to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.

TTUHSC El Paso’s prevention grant will go toward Tiempo de Vacunarte 2 (Time to Get Vaccinated Two), a cancer prevention program that focuses on cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).

The program is directed by co-principal investigators Jennifer C. Molokwu, M.D., M.P.H., an associate professor and director of medical student education in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at TTUHSC El Paso, and Jessica Calderón-Mora, Dr.P.H., a research instructor in the Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine’s Center of Emphasis in Cancer and a clinical instructor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine.

The program will expand efforts to make HPV vaccinations available to uninsured or underinsured residents of El Paso, Hudspeth, Culberson and Brewster Counties.

HPV vaccines have been proven to be highly effective in preventing HPV infections, according to the National Cancer Institute. HPV is a group of related viruses, and infections from some types of HPV can cause cervical, anal, oropharyngeal, penile, vulvar and vaginal cancers.

Cervical cancer is most often caused by HPV. According to the NCI, El Paso County has a rate of 10.3 cases of cervical cancer per 100,000 females, significantly worse than the U.S. rate of 7.5 cases per 100,000.

Tiempo de Vacunarte 2 will create outreach across a network of 175 community sites, as well as expansion to new sites, including school districts, community centers, clinics, faith-based organizations, food banks, city/county services, local and state health departments, and other community-based organizations.

To date, CPRIT has awarded $2.4 billion in grants to Texas research institutions and organizations through its academic research, prevention and product development research programs. CPRIT has recruited 181 distinguished researchers, supported the establishment, expansion or relocation of 36 companies to Texas, and generated over $3 billion in additional public and private investment.

CPRIT funding has advanced scientific and clinical knowledge and provided 5.7 million life-saving cancer prevention and early detection services reaching Texans from all 254 counties.

In May 2019, the Texas Legislature approved a constitutional amendment for the Nov. 5, 2019 general election ballot to authorize an additional $3 billion in bonds for cancer research and prevention.

School of Nursing’s early-admission program expands to Bel Air High School

Bel Air High School students now have a fast track to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, thanks to a partnership between the Ysleta Independent School District, El Paso Community College and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.

Bel Air students who enroll in the program will be given conditional acceptance to the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing’s Accelerated B.S.N. program. By taking prerequisite college courses while in high school with EPCC dual credit courses, they will be on track to earn their B.S.N. in just 16 months after high school graduation.

“We are honored to join Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso and El Paso Community College to provide a new pathway toward a college degree for our motivated Health Professions students at Bel Air High School,” said Xavier De La Torre, Ph.D., superintendent of schools at the Ysleta Independent School District.

“As we continue to make advancements in technology and innovation, it is apparent that high school graduation is no longer the finish line for many of our students,” De La Torre said. “This is why it is so important for YISD to provide not only relevant and rigorous instruction in core academic subjects, but career and technical training that students need to compete in the global workforce.”

Bel Air is the first YISD school to participate in the early-admission nursing program. Franklin High School and Maxine Silva Health Magnet High School in the El Paso Independent School District also offer the early-admission nursing program.

Manny Santa Cruz, D.N.P., M.B.A., R.N., assistant dean at the Hunt School of Nursing, said participating students can take all of their required university prerequisites while in high school and earn an Associate of Arts Degree through our program partner El Paso Community College.

“Our vision at the Hunt School of Nursing is to create the future of the local nursing workforce by providing seamless pathways to a B.S.N. degree for the entire El Paso community,” Santa Cruz said. “With college dual-credit conferred by El Paso Community College, we can now make this a reality for high school programs.”

Bel Air students interested in pursuing the path to an accelerated B.S.N. would need to start taking the college courses during their freshman year of high school.

“The B.S.N. pathway for YISD students at Bel Air is yet another example of the strong collaboration El Paso Community College has with our K-12 and university partners in the region,” said Tonie Badillo, dean of the Dual Credit and Early College High Schools program at El Paso Community College. “We are hopeful that this carefully developed pipeline will help meet workforce demands.”

These partnerships help TTUHSC El Paso address critical, statewide nursing shortages. By 2022, about 20,000 registered nurses will be needed in Texas, with a shortage of nearly 3,000 nurses in West Texas alone.

The Hunt School of Nursing is working to bring the early-admission nursing program to high schools in the Canutillo and Socorro Independent School Districts.

Peter Piper Pizza to sponsor Foster School of Medicine’s 10-Year Anniversary Celebration

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso and Peter Piper Pizza are teaming up to invest in scholarships for students at the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine.

“Peter Piper Pizza is proud to support Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso and their ongoing mission to improve the lives of those in the El Paso community,” said Kirk Robison, chairman and CEO of Pizza Properties.

The local franchise is contributing $25,000 to the Decade Scholarship as a major sponsor of TTUHSC El Paso’s “Red Tie Affair For A White Coat Occasion” celebration on Friday, February 28, 2020.

The event celebrates the 10-year anniversary of the Foster School of Medicine, which opened its doors to an inaugural class of 40 students in 2009. With help from community supporters like Peter Piper Pizza, the Foster School of Medicine is educating the future of health care and has graduated 422 students to date.

All event proceeds will go toward medical student scholarships with a focus on recruiting students from El Paso and across West Texas who will remain or return to the region to serve their community. The Foster School of Medicine was established to serve the mission of improving access to quality health care in the Borderland.

Peter Piper Pizza is also one of several local restaurants joining in the celebration by offering discounts for TTUHSC El Paso students and employees.

For information on the “Red Tie Affair For A White Coat Occasion” celebration, visit the 10-year anniversary website. Also on the site is an opportunity for alumni of the Foster School of Medicine to share memories and experiences during their time as medical students.

TTUHSC El Paso disaster training helped prepare Emergency Responders for Mass Shooting

The Department of Emergency Medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso plays a major role in preparing physicians and first responders for mass casualty incidents like the August 3 shooting at the Walmart in East-Central El Paso.

The attack killed 22 people and injured more than two dozen others.

Approximately every 18 months, the department conducts large-scale disaster drills as part of its three-year training program for emergency medicine residents. The department’s disaster drill in 2017 was based on an active-shooter scenario.

In April 2019, the department ran a two-day drill featuring a scenario involving trauma and toxicology: a train crash that unleashed a spill of hydrofluoric acid.

The drills typically bring together a wide range of participants, including residents training in other specialties, TTUHSC El Paso medical and nursing students, personnel from the El Paso Fire Department, and first-responder trainees from the community.

Middle and high school students from area schools have also participated in the drills, sometimes role-playing as simulated patients or training as part of their high schools’ first-responder programs.

“Physician residents and TTUHSC El Paso students have some opportunity during their training to see multiple patients, one after the other, in the emergency department, but it’s very rare that it is at the pace of a mass casualty incident,” said TTUHSC El Paso Professor of Emergency Medicine Stephen W. Borron, M.D., M.S., who helps organize the disaster drills.

“Being able to juggle multiple balls—keeping patients alive when you’re taking care of several patients at a time, and their conditions are changing very quickly—is a skill set that almost has to be learned outside the emergency department, because we just fortunately don’t see these kinds of incidents frequently,” Dr. Borron said.

TTUHSC El Paso Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine Scott Crawford, M.D., who works with Dr. Borron to organize the drills, said the exercises help emergency responders maintain focus and efficiency in an often-chaotic environment.

“One of the biggest benefits of (the drills) is that in a relatively controlled setting, they allow individuals to experience the challenge with communication and coordination of care between groups,” said Dr. Crawford, who also serves as director for the Training and Educational Center for Healthcare Simulation (TECHS) at TTUHSC El Paso.

Alejandro J. Rios Tovar, M.D., assistant professor and the associate trauma medical director for TTUHSC El Paso’s Department of Surgery, participated in disaster drills while completing his general surgery residency at TTUHSC El Paso from 2011 to 2016.

“I would always take the drills seriously as if they were real. The mass casualty drills help and it showed on the day of the shooting,” said Dr. Rios Tovar, who treated gunshot victims at University Medical Center of El Paso on Aug. 3. “Everybody knew what they were supposed to do.”

Now that the community has tragically experienced a mass-casualty incident that it hoped would never happen, the Department of Emergency Medicine will examine whether it can organize more frequent disaster drills, Dr. Borron said.

Dr. Crawford said the next drill likely won’t be based on an active shooter scenario because it could be emotionally traumatic for those that worked in emergency rooms on the day of the shooting.

Given the drills’ proven benefits, future events will surely include more participants from an array of academic departments, the physicians said.

“There needs to be even more interaction between physician residencies,” Dr. Borron said. “For example, it would be good for us to drill with the surgical department, the trauma residents, the radiology residents and the orthopaedic residents at a minimum; and maybe some of the internal medicine and pediatric residents. Almost every specialty comes into play in some way or other in a disaster situation.”

Author:  – TTUHSC El Paso

On the Fast Track: 19-Year-Old is the Foster School of Medicine’s Youngest Student

Lokesh Nagineni describes himself as someone who never backs down from a challenge.

From becoming a top spelling bee participant in the U.S. to earning a black belt in taekwondo and teaching the martial art, Nagineni’s determination to succeed is evident.

Now, he is tackling his biggest challenge yet – pursuing a medical degree as a member of the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine’s class of 2023. And he’s doing it at 19 years old – the youngest student to matriculate at the Foster School of Medicine in its 10-year history.

He graduated from UT Dallas in December 2018 with a bachelor of science degree in biology.

Nagineni was selected as a Foster Scholar and awarded a prestigious Foster Scholarship that helps pay student tuition costs. El Paso businessman Paul L. Foster’s 2007 gift of $50 million to help create the school of medicine also funded the Foster Scholars program.

“I was actually very intrigued because this is a fairly new school,” Nagineni said, explaining one of the qualities that drew him to the Foster School of Medicine. “It stands at a very unique place because it’s not just on the Mexico border, it’s on multiple borders.”

Nagineni was born in Irving, Texas and grew up in Flower Mound, a suburb of Dallas. He spent his summers in southern India with his grandparents in an area with a climate similar to El Paso’s.

Early on, Nagineni took a natural inclination to learning when he discovered spelling bees.

“I was 6 years old and I said, ‘Hey dad, this looks cool.’ And he said, ‘All right, go for it,'” Nagineni said of his first spelling bee. “I got knocked out in the second round. I don’t even remember what word I missed, but I remember it was a lot of fun.”

Undeterred, he kept studying; his natural curiosity drove him to uncover the origin of words.

“I remember looking at some of these words and thinking, ‘No way that’s part of the English language,'” he said. “And it turns out, I was right. They were taken from other languages. I loved looking at language patterns and seeing how they ended up transforming over the years. Latin and Greek form the basis of a lot of English, and they form the basis of jargon that people use in different professional fields.”

His love for words led him to the semifinals of the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee in front of a televised audience on ESPN. His TV appearance was only 30 seconds or so, but it was enough for his friends and classmates in middle school to capture videos of themselves watching and cheering for him.

Nagineni became interested in becoming a doctor around age 8, after his grandmother was diagnosed with cancer and became bedridden.

“I didn’t really like the hospital, and we went for that entire summer,” he said. “The doctors said they really couldn’t do anything for her at a certain point.”

Knowing the doctors couldn’t help her, he reached out to his maternal grandfather – a physician – to help him understand a profession that can lead to such heartbreaking moments.

Nagineni asked his grandfather, “If you have limitations, then why is this your job? What makes it worth it?”

His grandfather, a rural physician, took Nagineni to his clinic.

“I spent a lot of time there, and it was a completely different atmosphere,” Nagineni recalled. “I saw medicine from the provider side. The focus was more on what we can do to make a patient’s quality of life the best it can be, whether that be eradicating their illness, treating just the symptoms or delivering palliative care. There’s an entire range of care and treatment in medicine.”

Nagineni said his grandfather was supportive of his dream of becoming a physician, but made sure he understood the reality of the day-to-day life of a doctor.

“He said, ‘That’s great, but you know there’s a very long path and you have to keep working hard? There’ll be days that nobody might need your help, and there’ll be days where everybody might need your help. There will be times you’ll be exhausted after a full day, and you’ll be woken up in the middle of the night to go and treat somebody. So, will you really stick with it?'”

Nagineni explored the idea even more because that’s the kind of curious kid he was.

“I just kept on going back with him to visit the clinic, kept on asking questions. I bugged the nurses so much I’m sure they must have been tired of me,” Nagineni said. “I talked to everybody I could in health care  and came to the conclusion that as long as you really like your work and the spirit of the profession, you could do it for the rest of your life.”

Now at age 19, he’s taking the first step toward the life of a physician that he first considered as a profession about 10 years ago—right around the time the Foster School of Medicine admitted its first class.

“Nagineni is the type of student that the team from the Foster School of Medicine works to recruit. Someone who has a passion to serve others, determined to pursue a career in medicine and is attracted to our diverse community. Nagineni is the future of health care,” school officials added.

Foster Scholar Alumna makes a difference as a Family Medicine Physician

Sarah Sepulveda, M.D., didn’t let small-town roots limit her big dreams.

Dr. Sepulveda grew up in Fabens, Texas, a small community about 30 miles east of El Paso along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“I wanted to become a doctor because you can help improve the quality of patients’ lives,” said Dr. Sepulveda, a 2015 graduate of the Foster School of Medicine. “I loved the idea of connecting and helping people when they are at their most challenging moments in life. It is a wonderful feeling to know that the patient has this much trust and faith in you.”

Dr. Sepulveda received a scholarship to attend medical school through the Foster Scholars program.

“Receiving a scholarship meant freedom to me,” Dr. Sepulveda said. “It meant that I was free to pursue the career of my choice. I really wanted to practice family medicine from my first year in medical school. Knowing that I wasn’t going to have a large amount of debt allowed me to choose the career in which I was happiest, helping address a major need for primary care physicians in my community.”

Without scholarship support, Dr. Sepulveda’s dream to pursue a degree in medicine and serve families in her community would not have been possible.

Dr. Sepulveda makes a difference in the community as a family medicine doctor at Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso in Northeast El Paso.

Make an investment in the future of health care by joining us as we celebrate the Foster School of Medicine’s 10th anniversary; for more information, visit the school’s 10-year anniversary website.


In 2007, El Paso businessman Paul L. Foster donated $50 million to help create the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso. His gift has also funded the tuition of dozens of medical students, known as the Foster Scholars.

This academic year, the Foster Scholars program has awarded 90 students scholarships totaling $1.8 million; 78 students have received $15,000 Foster Scholarships, and 12 students have received $1,000 scholarships along with a non-resident tuition waiver.

Author:  – TTUHSC El Paso

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