Nancy Gibbs’ social conscience was formed growing-up in south Chicago during the turbulent years of the civil rights struggle. She recalls the rampant prejudice and, by today’s standards, unthinkable experiences such as going to a restaurant with black friends and not being seated.
Nancy attended Michigan State University for undergraduate studies and Loyola-Chicago for medical school where she specialized in family practice. She performed her residency at the University of Minnesota. While in college the Vietnam war was in full-swing and Nancy participated in a number of protests; she recalls once being blasted by tear-gas.
Through Catholic Medical Missions, Nancy spent a summer working in Haiti where she witnessed terrible poverty and environmental destitution. She dealt with widespread tuberculosis and parasitic diseases resulting from a lack of public health programs and proper waste management. After medical school, she went to St. Lucia as a medical volunteer. Ever since, she has had a great interest in third world health issues.
Dr. Gibbs moved to California in the early 1980s and joined Physicians for Social Responsibility shortly thereafter; she joined PSR-LA’s board of directors in 1999. She has served as a PSR-LA spokesperson at press conferences, performed in-service trainings at community clinics, and is currently chair of PSR-LA’s development committee.
Dr. Gibbs works at Kaiser Permanente-Baldwin Park in family practice and geriatrics with additional appointments at Glendale Adventist and Westside Neighborhood Clinic.
“PSR-Los Angeles is the only organization I know,” Dr. Gibbs said, “that is paying attention to the nuclear threat in an active way. I really appreciate PSR’s perspective on war – how we diagnose war as it affects people’s health. And I like the way PSR frames the issues of the day through the health prism – whether it is the nuclear threat or gun violence or environmental issues. Everyday we physicians see people who have been impacted by environmental toxins, such as dirty air impacting patients’ COPD. For this reason, we have a great opportunity to provide education to the public, to legislators, and to physicians who may not realize their medical training has given them a way to think about social issues in an entirely new way.”
Dr. Gibbs would like to encourage other physicians to join PSR-LA. “It’s a great place to put your energy and work to create a safer healthier world.”