BY Amanda Sotelo

The Texas State Technical College Dental Hygiene class of Spring 2018 recently received official Western Regional Examining Board (WREB) exam scores and have achieved a 100 percent pass rate for the third consecutive year.

“We are so excited and so proud of our students,” said TSTC Dental Hygiene Program Director Raquel Rico. “Everyone has worked really hard to make this achievement possible.”

WREB is one of three exams that graduates from the dental hygiene program are required to pass to receive a license in the profession and be able to practice as a dental hygienist.

In addition to the clinical board exam (WREB), graduates must also pass the National Dental Hygiene Examination Board and the Texas State Governance Jurisprudence Exam.

Judith Cano, one of the 25 students from the Spring 2018 dental hygiene graduating class, is already working as a hygienist for The Smile Shop in Pharr and Mission and said she was excited to learn she and her classmates had passed their clinical board exam, receiving their golden slips.

“This just goes to show that all of our hard work has finally paid off,” said Cano. “I’m so happy and excited for all of us.”

Cano, mother of a six-year-old son and former president of her class’ dental hygiene club, also said that she owes her success to her parents who migrated from Mexico City.

“My mom and dad have been so supportive of everything I do. They believe in me 100 percent and without them I wouldn’t be where I am at,” said Cano. “They migrated to the U.S. to give us a better life and they definitely did that.”

Cano added that it is the hands-on training they received in class and at the TSTC Dental Hygiene Clinic, which provides low-cost dental services to the community, TSTC’s interview practicum and the mock board exams that made all of the difference.

Dental Hygiene Instructor Vicki Martin said they spend the last two semesters of the two-year program conducting mock clinical board exams following the same process students would experience during the actual exam.

As they do for the actual clinical board exam, the students select a person who is willing to volunteer as a patient, instructors approve the students’ patient selection and then perform and note every dental procedure completed by the student.

“As faculty, we are dedicated to making sure that we prepare our students the best way we can for their exams,” said Martin. “We don’t want there to be any surprises for them. We find this relieves a lot of their testing anxiety and that in turn allows them to do better.”

Rico said that mock board exams are a rare thing for dental hygiene programs to offer and that being the only program in the Rio Grande Valley, they felt this was an important service to offer its students.

“Our goal is to produce highly-skilled hygienists who are compassionate, provide the best patient care and always have the best interest of their patients in mind,” said Rico.

It is this that Rico said has put TSTC’s Dental Hygiene program on the map as the sixth best dental hygiene program in Texas , according to a list compiled by universities.com.

“This is great recognition for our program. It gives us visibility and helps us encourage future hygienists to check out our program,” said Rico. “We hope to continue growing and welcoming students from across the state.”

With the demand for dental hygienists growing and the job outlook increasing by nearly 20 percent, faster than the average of other occupations according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Rico said TSTC’s Dental Hygiene program is ready to help meet the demand.

For more information on TSTC’s Dental Hygiene program or TSTC’s Dental Hygiene Clinic call 956-364-4696 or visit tstc.edu.