EDINBURG — A doctor here is poised to be the next president of the Texas Medical Association, an advocacy group that represents more than 53,000 doctors and medical students across the state.
The Texas Medical Association (TMA) board unanimously elected Dr. E. Linda Villarreal, an Edinburg internist, as president-elect. Villarreal will serve in that capacity for a year, as is customary for the organization, before taking over as president next year.
“I am so proud to be recognized as a leader in our organization,” she said in a news release Tuesday.
When Villarreal takes over as president, she will become the third Rio Grande Valley physician elected to serve as president in the organization’s 167-year history.
The late Starr County physician Mario E. Ramirez was the first to serve as president from 1979-80. Then 38 years later, Edinburg gastroenterologist Carlos J. Cardenas was elected to serve from 2017 to 2018.
Villarreal has been a member of the organization for 31 years and has served in various capacities, including chair of the board of trustees and district vice chair of the association’s political action committee, TEXPAC.
But, she’s also held leadership roles closer to home, having served as chief of staff at Edinburg Regional Medical Center, president of the Hidalgo-Starr County Medical Society, and president of the TMA-affiliated Border Health Caucus.
“Texas is changing. Medicine is changing,” she said. “We must adapt to it. We owe this to those who have come before us and for those who will be coming after.”
But despite the changes, a patient’s access to care continues to be a priority for herself and the organization, she said.
“(I) look forward to continuing my work, my passion, and my energy for the continued protection of access to health care for all Texans in the way we have all been taught to practice medicine,” Villarreal said.
The Edinburg native attended Pan American College for one year before transferring to the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her undergraduate studies. She spent 10 years as a pharmacist before returning to school and earning her medical degree from Universidad de Noreste Medical School in Tampico, Mexico.
She then completed her internal medicine residency at Texas Tech Regional Academic Health Science Center in El Paso, and has been active in a number of charities, including Easter Seals, the Hope Medical Clinic, the Arthritis Foundation, and the Heart Association.