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MUSC Seeks To Honor Historic Figure Dr. Rose Delores Gibbs With Endowed Scholarship
Published:
3/12/2014 10:39:51 AM


Dr. Rose Delores Gibbs
 
By Barney Blakeney


As the nation celebrates Women In History Month during March, Dr. Rose Delores Gibbs is a fitting example of a living history figure. She is the first Black woman to graduate from the Medical College of South Carolina School of Medicine and has spent the last 36 years working to improve the health of undeserved people around the world and in the Lowcountry.

A Moncks Corner native, Dr. Gibbs grew up the fifth child among six siblings on a farm with her father who farmed and her mother taught school. After attending Whitesides Elementary School she went on to attend Boylan Haven-Mather Academy in Camden.

Always one to focus on her goals, Dr. Gibbs wanted to become a physician and go to Africa. She graduated Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn. then entered medical school at the Medical College in 1969. She graduated as the school’s first Black female from its school of medicine four years later. She was the only African American student to graduate in 1973 among the school of medicine's 160 graduates. There were several other Black females enrolled in different schools and Ph.D programs at the Medical College at the time.

Dr. Gibbs completed her residency in Internal Medicine as an Infectious Disease Fellow at Howard University and went on to receive her Tropical Diseases Certificate from Walter Reed Army Hospital.

After completing her residency, Dr. Gibbs joined the Peace Corps. She spent two years as chief medical officer in Sierra Leone during the six years she spent in the Peace Corps. For two years she was chief of medical operations working out of the Peace Corps’ Washington, D.C. office. She supervised the health care needs of some 5,500 volunteers in 55 countries around the world.

She says her work in the Peace Corps changed her entire life. While in training and on her first job at Howard University delivering health care services to students and staff, she had the best and most up to date resources available to her, but in the Peace Corp she saw that for much of the world such resources were unavailable. She came to develop a different sense about volunteerism and giving.

That new found sensitivity led her in 1986 to open her private practice, Coastal Carolina Primary Care, in the rural Moncks Corner community. Four years ago she opened a free clinic for patients without health care insurance which she operates two days monthly.

Through her non-profit organization Dr. Gibbs also conducts a theater group and tennis camp that provides skills and experiences for children while teaching them healthy life styles. And she operates a wellness center and thrift store in St. Stephen that offers health care education and free blood pressure monitoring.

“I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else,” said Dr. Gibbs who describes herself as a farmer who loves to keep her hands in the dirt. She plants a garden and flowers and hopes to eventually reactivate her family’s farm. For now, learning Spanish, painting and travelling are among the passions she pursues. She wants to drive across the United States.

Retirement is on the horizon, Dr. Gibbs says, but she’s concerned about people’s access to adequate health care. She plans to continue working part time even after she retires and she’s trying to impact future access to health care through an endowed scholarship for minority students in the School of Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina. To help establish the scholarship contact Terry Stanley, Assc. Dean for Development, MUSC College of Medicine.
 

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