At the May meeting of the Nolan County Hospital District's board of directors held at Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital (RPMH), the group was introduced to Leila Rubio, a recent graduate of Hardin Simmons University.
The twenty-one year old was accepted to the medical school at Texas Tech University and will begin a three-year accelerated program this July. She has local ties to the community, as she grew up in Sweetwater and graduated as valedictorian of Sweetwater High School in 2011.
Rubio continued her educational excellence at Hardin Simmons, as she graduated summa cum laude from the university. Throughout her schooling, she commuted back and forth from Sweetwater to Abilene, which she said allowed her to mature.
As a result, she began to see Sweetwater from the eyes of a young adult. Additionally, she was able to make the transition from a follower to a leader within her church.
Faith and family are important to Rubio, the middle child between her older brother who also graduated from Hardin Simmons a couple years ago and a younger sister. Her parents immigrated from Mexico, and she maintains her heritage by speaking both English and Spanish.
She takes pride in her heritage and wants to bring it to the local medical field, which is one of the reasons why she wants to come back to Sweetwater. While she initially wanted to pursue a career in optometry, she made the decision to become a family practice doctor after shadowing at Dr. Eaker's office.
With Rubio's intentions to return to Sweetwater and practice medicine once her education and residency is completed, hospital administrator Donna Boatright presented a medical student stipend agreement to the board--which was approved--in order to financially assist Rubio throughout her education.
She has already received a scholarship for her second year of medical school, but the agreement would offer major assistance during her first and third years. The agreement also outlined assistance on room and board during the second year.
Over the three-year period, the stipend would total $54,000. Once she begins her residency, the financial assistance would be re-examined by the board.
But while Rubio continues her journey toward becoming a family practice doctor, RPMH continues to add doctors to their staff.
The practice of orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Marvel, the most recent addition to the local hospital, remains steady. In addition, two new family doctors will establish their practice toward the end of the summer.
Jennifer Sinclair-Liedtke, MD will complete her residency in June from Texas A&M in family practice and will also practice obstetrics. She will begin her practice in early August.
April Enard, DO will also complete her residency in June and will be practicing family medicine and obstetrics.Â She will open her practice in late September.