In Jesus’ Name
There are only two Christian Family Practice Residency Training Programs in the nation, and the Rio Grande Valley is the proud home to one of them.
The Harlingen Valley Baptist Family Residency Program celebrates 20 years of dedication to raising up a new generation of energetic, extraordinarily competent, visionary family doctors to win the world for Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Twenty years ago this was only a dream for Program Director Dr. Bruce Leibert a Board Certified Family Practitioner, former army platoon major and veteran of Dessert Storm.
“Out there in battle grounds you learn about serving and caring for others; it’s not about yourself. I discovered who Jesus really was, and I felt a calling for change. I wanted to help others in a different way,” said Dr. Leibert. At about the same time, Valley Baptist was looking for a director to start a program involving medical training with a focus in Christ. Fate got them together and the rest is a Christ driven 20-year-old history. “I can’t take credit for what God does,” said Dr. Leibert with the tremendous enthusiasm that characterizes him.
Every July first, Dr. Leibert and his staff welcome a diverse group of five young doctors from all over the country. After a detailed matching process, they were chosen to participate in a three year training program that will prepare them for the certifying exam of the American Board of Family Medicine. Each new class chooses a bible verse that will serve as inspiration through the process. The program consists of hands-on practice and academics. Dr. Nina Torkelson, a family practice faculty member, instructs the new doctors how to apply the broad knowledge they have acquired to people. “She teaches them how to pray, be mamas, wives, husbands, and community leaders; she teaches them about life,” said Dr. Leibert.
A positive energy emanates from the time one walks into the 13,000 square-foot building housing the Family Practice Clinic. “This is the medical Walmart of Harlingen,” said Dr. Leibert “for people from all walks of life are welcome regardless of insurance and economic status. From the wealthiest to the poorest they are here, and from various ethnicities. Asians, African, Mexican and Philippine Americans come here for procedures such as colonoscopy, treadmill stress testing, OB ultrasound, colposcopy, laryngoscopy, minor surgery, spirometry, audiometry, tympanometry and more. Every day 15 young doctors learn to be family practitioners in this community in Jesus’ name.” affirmed Dr. Leibert. It is estimated that 100 patients are cared for by a staff of forty on a daily basis at the clinic and 3 on-call resident doctors are available every hour of every day.
Friday Night Lights is the name of one of several community outreach programs the clinic offers. For 20 years, residency doctors have joined the San Benito Greyhounds as team doctors during football season. Framed photographs of the past 18 graduate classes adorn hallway walls at the clinic. Dr. Leibert proudly displays a wall-sized world map where he pins alumni photos in cities they are currently employed. He tries to keep in touch with all of them. One of them has been named family practitioner of
the year in Colorado. Dr. Leibert proudly stated. To learn more visit valleybaptistfp.com. And in case anyone wondered, the other Christian Residency Program is based in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Only a person with incredible energy like Dr. Leibert could effortlessly tackle all of this and even more for there is much more. Under the 501c3 Harlingen Physician Network, Dr. Leibert is responsible for the organization of annual missionary medical trips to places like Honduras, Nepal, Paraguay, Kenya and Thailand. The organization welcomes tax deductible donations to fund these trips. Furthermore, and if this was not enough, Dr. Leibert finds time to oversee the Harlingen Family Entertainment Theater Company that is currently preparing for a December presentation of The Music Man. But that is a completely different story for a later issue. For now, we leave Dr. Leibert joyfully pacing the halls of the Family Practice Clinic motivating resident doctors, staff and patients to smile and believe in the love of Jesus Christ. There is no better message of the love of God than to see him at work. Before concluding our interview Dr. Leibert said: “Remember that healing, hope and health only come from Jesus Christ.”