Gibson’s personal loss drives his mission to improve health equity in rural Alabama

One UAB surgeon’s personal loss drives his mission to reduce health care disparities.
Written by: Emme Stewart
Media contact: Adam Pope

University of Alabama at Birmingham1204130280350888.1wYhwMipy1ed72pHhetl height640Quince Gibson, M.D. Division of Gastrointestinal Surgery Assistant Professor Quince Gibson, M.D., has spent the last year and a half as the sole GI surgeon at Whitfield Regional Hospital in Demopolis, Alabama. Looking back, his path to medicine has proved far different from Gibson’s initial career trajectory.

Gibson, an MBA graduate from the University of Baltimore, first thought he would pursue a path in management information systems, where he worked with clients like Lockheed Martin, AOL and the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

However, after witnessing the passing of a family friend and the “matriarch of the community” due to health complications and a lack of access to needed treatment and care, Gibson knew that his interest in science, health informatics and drive to reduce the disparities in medicine would fuel his next journey.

After deciding to chart a new path, Gibson attended medical school at Loma Linda University in California and completed his general surgery residency at UAB. Upon graduation, Gibson accepted the position to continue his career with UAB as a general surgeon in Demopolis.

“Our service allows us to provide great care to patients close to home,” Gibson said. “The difference between our patients’ being able to come to our facility instead of traveling for care could be determining whether they are able to provide groceries for their families or not.”

Using the DaVinci Robot System, Gibson provides surgical care for Demopolis-area residents through a host of minimally invasive procedures, ranging from gallbladder removals to colectomies.

“Being able to perform these larger surgeries that would usually be much more invasive lessens recovery time and the impact our patients face both socially and economically,” Gibson said.

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, which is the Gibson says there is a lot we can do to reverse the increasing trend for colorectal cancer diagnoses.

“There are lots of very simple modifications we can take,” Gibson said. “Exercise more, control your weight, and make sure that you get screened. I’ve heard that patients feel embarrassed about registering for a colonoscopy, but please know that it is much easier to have a small polyp removed during a screening than being diagnosed later with something far more severe.”

When not performing surgery or visiting patients in clinic, Gibson enjoys teaching the next generation of medical practitioners. With two surgical residents currently training at Whitfield, Gibson hopes to instill the passion for rural surgery in trainees.

To those interested in pursuing a similar path, Gibson reminds medical students and residents to stay the course.

“Medical training is a long process, and we often get lost in the drudge of moving from one task to the next,” he said. “Keep yourself focused on your mission and get comfortable feeling uncomfortable. Try new things, and stay humble.”