2020 40 Under 40 award recipient: Charles Gibson

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Charles Gibson Courtesy 616 Media

Charles Gibson, 36

Trauma/critical care surgeon
Spectrum Health

Dr. Charles Gibson is in a class all his own. Only 5% of U.S. physicians are Black, and even fewer are trauma surgeons, he said.

“I can think of countless times that I have been encouraged to aim lower, told that I could not succeed, or counseled to consider a different path,” Gibson said. “I believe that I have a duty to not only be an excellent physician, but also to be an example for those who dare to dream bigger than what the world may say they can be.”

Gibson said he’s had many positive role models to inspire him in his life, the most important of which was his father, who grew up in South Carolina, sharecropping in the Jim Crow era. But he eventually worked his way through college and through the ranks of MARTA, the transit system in Atlanta, Georgia, to become the superintendent of the rail system.

Additionally, he had a mother who demanded excellence of him at all times, saying “B’s were not good enough and good is the enemy of best.”

Gibson’s mentor, Dr. Richard Hagelberg, challenged him in his third year of residency training to take his performance to the next level and become a trauma surgeon.

“I take great joy in helping patients in their darkest hour and returning them as whole as possible to their loved ones,” Gibson said. “Patients depend on us so that they can continue living productive lives as teachers, lawyers, police officers, elected officials, clergy, etc.”

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