By Michael Swartz
Photos Provided By Valley Baptist Health System
HARLINGEN – Dr. Bruce A. Leibert, Director of the Valley Baptist Family Practice Residency Program, has been named the 2011 Physician of the Year for Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen.
Dr. Leibert has led the Family Practice Residency Program since its inception at Valley Baptist in 1996. The program trains family practice doctors, many of whom stay in the Valley and care for Valley patients when they graduate. During the three-year residency following medical school, the residents receive training in all aspects of family medicine, including internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, general surgery and general orthopedics.
According to Valley Baptist employees who participated in balloting to select the annual Physician of the Year, Dr. Leibert is known for his compassion, his leadership, his creativity and his excellent teaching skills. “When his patients visit him, they know that they have his undivided attention,” Valley Baptist employees stated in nominating Dr. Leibert for the award. “His great bedside manner is evident in the way he listens carefully to his patients, ensuring that they don’t feel rushed … he prays for his patients and he is just as concerned with their spiritual health as their physical health.”
Under the Christian-based residency program, Dr. Leibert says the supervising physicians and medical students become “witnesses to the healing power of Jesus” – with healing coming about both through medical treatment and the spiritual power of prayer.
“Christian training and working in a Christian environment is refreshing and unique,” Dr. Leibert added. “We look not only at the body and mind but also at the spiritual nature that God has given to men and women.”
In addition to his spirituality, Valley Baptist employees noted Dr. Leibert’s sense of humor, which has become legendary around the hospital. He has performed in hilarious skits, organized a Christian music band and played the keyboards as part of “National Day of Prayer” activities at the hospital, and even dons a Santa costume and plays “Doc Santa” for his patients.
“His energy is amazing — and if he has ever had a bad day, no one at work has known it,” VBMC employees stated in nominating Dr. Leibert for the award. “He is an excellent example of what a Christian physician should be… humble, compassionate, knowledgeable, energetic, and eager to share the Gospel.”
Dr. Leibert and his wife Jan are also known to host various events at their home and elsewhere for the entire Family Practice Clinic staff and their families, including “beach days,” “rodeo nights,” and barn dances. Dr. Leibert is also described as an “incredible role model, a loving husband and father, as well as a trusted friend to many people from all walks of life.”
Since the inception of the Family Practice Residency Program 17 years ago, Dr. Leibert and his faculty members have trained 67 residents. Graduates of the program serve patients in the Valley and around the country. Five graduates and their families serve needy patients in the mission field in Paraguay, Asia, and Papua New Guinea.
Dr. Leibert was also instrumental in bringing to the Valley a program which takes “good medicine and the Good News” to needy Valley colonia residents. The Summer Medical Institute” is a month-long community outreach in which medical students from across the United States come to the Valley to provide free healthcare, health screenings and the Gospel message to the poor. Through this Christian outreach, Dr. Leibert and the faculty members mentor students and teach them how to incorporate faith into the practice of medicine. The summer program – now in its 11th year – has served more than 10,000 needy patients and their families in the Valley and northern Mexico.
In addition, Dr. Leibert established a weekly mission outreach where a team of doctors and nurses goes into local communities to provide free healthcare. To fund these projects, he established Rio Grande Valley Medical Missions — and serves as president of the organization.
Dr. Leibert has written a book to honor his father, “Sonuvacoach.” Dr. Leibert has also written, directed, and starred in many local theatrical productions. He wrote and directed an original Christmas play at Calvary Christian School and performed in “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown and “Cheaper by the Dozen”.