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New TTUHSC students welcomed to area by MCH and Odessa Chamber of Commerce

The goal is to help the third-year medical students get comfortable in Odessa in hopes they will stay to work in the Permian Basin when their education is complete.

ODESSA, Texas — As the Permian Basin continues to grow, the need for healthcare workers will continue to be an area of focus in the community. On Thursday night, the Odessa Chamber of Commerce and Medical Center Hospital welcomed 29 third-year medical students who will continue their education at the Texas Tech Univeristy Health Sciences Center, or TTUHSC, in Odessa. 

With many of the students coming from elsewhere in Texas, and even the country, Thursday night was really about giving them a warm introduction to Odessa. The hope is to keep the students in Odessa and West Texas after they finish their education, and one student has that vision. 

“I came to Odessa a few weeks ago…I could see myself calling this home," said Austin Rodgers, a third-year medical student at TTUHSC and President for the Class of 2025. "The people are so kind and nice…they stop and wave and say ‘hi’ and say ‘how are you doing?’. It’s like home.” 

The students are transitioning from Lubbock to finish out their education in Odessa. With healthcare workers in need, there is opportunity for them to stay. 

“The Permian Basin is one of the hot spots in the country that needs more providers," said Russell Tippin, President and CEO of Medical Center Hospital. "When you look at how the Permian Basin is growing, how people are moving here to working jobs in the oilfield and our economy is growing, you always need more providers, so definitely there’s a shortage there and we need all these people that we can get.” 

Rodgers noted one need in particular in the region. 

“There’s a huge physician shortage right now in West Texas, and so, here with the school of medicine, a big focus is getting physicians out here because there is such a need for it, and so they do their best to make sure that we can find jobs afterwards," said Rodgers. "They set us up with mentors in the community as well in fields that we’re interested in, especially with primary care when we need so many primary care doctors here.” 

Trying to retain these students is important with how talented they are.

“This group of people – when they get to this level in their training – they can pretty much put their finger on a map and go wherever they want to go," said Tippin. "They’re in high demand, and all hospitals and clinics want them, and this is just a good recruiting tool for us to show them what we’re all about and to keep them local.” 

Each student received a gift bag with community information inside as they were welcomed in as Odessans.

“This chamber and this community is the only one in the Texas Tech System that hosts this type of event," said Renee Earls, President and CEO of the Odessa Chamber of Commerce. "Just making them feel valued and…just getting them to know people and feel comfortable here and really become part of the community.” 

Rodgers said that serving West Texas is a focus and that the event allowed the students to connect with the community. Tippin mentioned that at Medical Center Hospital they will see the students everyday and they want them to stay. 

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