On the road
By Jim Barrett
About to begin its third year, the South Texas/Border Region
Health Education Initiative has helped create or expand more than 30 health-related
education programs. Here are snapshots and reports from the locales the initiative serves:
The first 16 students in a new degree program in dental hygiene have enrolled at Texas
State Technical College. Hygienists in the Rio Grande Valley are in demand and earn
excellent salaries, depending upon their experience and the number of hours they work per
A new computerized resource center is open at Texas A&M University-Kingsville for interns in
dietetics. The center is part of the Nutrition Resource Project. Coordinator Gloria
Fernandez-Van Zante, a registered dietitian and graduate of the university, said the educators at
Kingsville also are taking aspects of their program to other heath professionals in the Coastal
Bend. "For example, we are helping day-care directors and their providers with information about
well-child nutrition. We are helping nurses who care for people with chronic diseases such as cancer.
They want to know, for example, how to suggest a healthy diet for people who have trouble
swallowing, or have diabetes, or high blood pressure," Fernandez-Van Zante said.
"On an informal basis, we want to take this knowledge regionally and be a place people can turn to for nutritional information. Our goal is to teach professionals, and let those professionals teach others," she said.
Computer data base connections are complete for online research at Laredo Community College, Mercy Regional Medical Center, and Texas A&M International University. The connections help students and health professionals reach repositories of specialized information at the Health Science Center's Briscoe Library and other libraries.
Clinic expansion is finished at the McAllen Family Practice Residency Program Clinic as it brings its number of medical residents from 18 to 24 next year. The expansion already has given the clinic the capacity to treat about 3,600 more patients a year, an increase of more than 10 percent.
Bee County College enlarged its clinical instruction space to accommodate the 15 new
students a year it can enroll in its degree program in dental hygiene. Graduates of the program
are in high demand in the Coastal Bend region.
Evening classes in public health began in Brownsville and Harlingen for health educators, students and practitioners. A total of 48 people signed up for the first series. Students are eligible for continuing education credit.
Medical residents from Spohn Memorial Hospital and students in Texas A&M-Corpus Christi's master's program for family nurse practitioners began interdisiciplinary clinics together. The instruction is the first of its kind in the Coastal Bend.