Aurora Ortiz, a TSTC Dental Hygiene student, is introduced to the program’s new HTC VIVE Focus 3, a virtual reality training simulator that will be used by students next spring at TSTC’s Harlingen campus.

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Students in the Dental Hygiene program at Texas State Technical College are about to have a new tool to help prepare them for careers in the Texas workforce.

The program will introduce a new HTC VIVE Focus 3 virtual reality simulator next spring that will be used by students in the third-semester Dental Radiology course.

“The technology will enhance students’ proficiencies,” said Vivienne Cermeno, a TSTC Dental Hygiene instructor. “Their diagnostic dental radiology skills are vital in applying, entering and keeping a career in dentistry. Capturing a great-quality diagnostic X-ray aids the dentist and dental hygienist in diagnoses of periodontal health, cavities and pathology.”

Cermeno added that the software was designed to be a safe way for students to practice their X-ray skills.

“Students will be allowed multiple attempts on virtual patients, which would not otherwise be possible in real life due to the danger of overexposure to radiation,” she said.

Anna San Pedro, associate provost for TSTC’s Harlingen campus, said virtual reality is poised to reshape the future of TSTC’s Dental Hygiene program by facilitating innovative and immersive learning experiences.

“This advancement is set to play a pivotal role in TSTC’s Allied Health division as it strives to meet industry demands, ensuring that graduates are well prepared for the evolving health care landscape,” she said. “TSTC is proud to lead in technical instruction, offering students immersive technology for learning and industry preparation, and showcasing its commitment to progressive education.”

According to onetonline.org, dental hygienists in Texas can earn an average annual salary of $79,660. The need for hygienists in the state was expected to grow 32% by 2030, according to the website.

TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Dental Hygiene at the Harlingen campus.

Registration for TSTC’s spring semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.

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