“Be nice and call people by their name.” It sounds simple enough, but it’s the motto to which Dr. James Gibbs says he has lived by every day of his 40 years since starting the former Salem Gastroenterology Associates—now known as Gastroenterology Associates of the Piedmont (or “GAP”).
If you find something you like, it doesn’t feel like work.” For Dr. Gibbs, his job satisfaction genuinely comes from helping people. He relays that his proudest moments come from the people who express what a difference he has made in their lives.
James Gibbs grew up in Reidsville, North Carolina. It was here that he became friends with Mary Alice in the 1st grade, who is now his wife of 55 years. They have three children and six grandchildren scattered across the Eastern United States.
Dr. Gibbs’ decision to become a doctor was unexpected. He was enrolled to attend business school, but a mentor came into his life that helped him to find his true passion for helping people. Dr. Gibbs remembers the nervousness of approaching his father, a businessman himself, about the decision. At that time in 1963, the average cost of a college semester was $600, a startling contrast to the costs encountered today! A young James Gibbs entered into medical school that fall with his father’s blessing.
He completed his undergraduate degree at Davidson College, medical school and training at the Medical College of Virginia, spent two years in an Alabama army hospital, then completed additional training at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During that time, his passion and inspiration for focusing on gastroenterology came from the mentors he met along the way, who allowed him to be involved in research studies and the development of the gastroenterology department at Chapel Hill. He moved to Winston-Salem in 1974 to establish himself in a town close to his family in Reidsville.
It was in Winston-Salem that Dr. Gibbs and Dr. Michael Rubin took a leap and started Salem Gastroenterology Associates in 1979. The practice soon began to grow, and what is now “GAP” currently hosts 14 physicians, with two more joining this summer. According to Dr. Gibbs, “The thing that can make life so much better is the people you’re surrounded by.” It’s this reason that even through major changes in healthcare and the merger of two competitors, the primary goal has remained to grow a group of physicians who understand the importance of preserving the commitment to patient care.
A New Adventure
After 40 years of treating patients in the practice he grew from the ground up, Dr. Gibbs has made the decision to retire. He plans to stay busy reading books, spending time with family, volunteering with medical organizations, and finding new hobbies. Even with new adventures on the horizon, his main focus is still on getting his patients the best care possible. “I have patients who I’ve treated three generations of their family. I’m glad to know that I can fully trust their care to our providers.” He also expresses, “Your biggest fear is that when you retire, your practice won’t sustain itself. I’m glad to know that will not be happening in this case.”
Dr. Gibbs wishes to thank every patient and staff member who has made his career possible over the years.
Published by the staff of Gastroenterology Associates of the Piedmont, in honor and celebration of James Gibbs’ retirement.
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