Dr. Lynette Gibson
Dr. Lynette Gibson tried other fields,
but it was an experience she had
as a young woman that set her
on the path to a career in nursing
Gibson is an associate professor
and director of research in nursing
at the Mary Black School of Nursing.
“I was a secretary, I was a
bookkeeper and I was not satisfied
with those,” Gibson said. “So when
I was about 19, when you’re trying
to learn about yourself, find out what
you need to do, I remembered I
was happiest as a candy striper at
the hospital when I was a teenager and I thought ‘Boy, let me try that.’”
While, as a candy striper, she wasn’t able to do any hands-on work with
the patients, she loved interacting with patients, arranging flowers to
brighten up their rooms and helping them plan their menus for the next day.
28 | The Magazine for the University of South Carolina Upstate
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“I was hooked,” Gibson said.
She went to work as a nursing assistant in a psychiatric hospital in Bermuda.
At the psychiatric hospital, Gibson worked with people who had severe
mental health disabilities, older adults who had mental health issues and
acutely mentally ill patients.
“I had a variety of experiences there,” Gibson said. “The love that you
receive, the natural love, if you have a person who is severely mentally
disabled that they show you, the love and acceptance that they show
you, there’s nothing like it."
She received a scholarship from the Bermuda Hospitals Board, and returned
to the United States to attend nursing school at the Medical University of
South Carolina in Charleston. She graduated and moved to the Greenville
area in 1984. “I’ve been here ever since,” she said.
She graduated in 1987 from Clemson University with a Master of Science
degree in nursing and earned her doctorate in nursing science in 2000
from the University of South Carolina.
Courses as an undergraduate kindled Gibson’s love of research, which
was furthered by experiences at the National Institutes of Health, including
a stint at the National Cancer Institute’s Clinical Research Center.
“My mother was a breast cancer survivor,” Gibson said. “She’s really my
inspiration behind doing breast cancer research. She was a nine-year
survivor and passed 25 years ago this year.”
Her first breast cancer research focused on “what made people or women
with breast cancer cope from the inside.”
She administered questionnaires on spirituality, hope and “sense of
coherence” to a group of 162 black women. The results showed the group
of women had high levels of sense of coherence and hope.
That led to community research and an intervention called “Save Our
Younger African-American woman are more likely to die from breast cancer,
Gibbons said, and “Save Our Breasts” is geared toward black women and
takes to the community information on early detection of breast cancer,
“With the research, I would show pictures of breast cancer survivors who
were black. Beautiful women who had survived positively -- people like
(actress) Ruby Dee and (newscaster) Robin Roberts. People who had
survived breast cancer and had a positive impact on the community.”
She’s also worked with colleagues at the Greenville Health System, looking
at cancer survivors and quality-of-life issues. They conducted qualitative
research using interviews and focus groups with a small group.
“We learned that their perception of self and the way they adapted were
most important to them,” Gibson said.
Gibson is also involved with LiveWell Greenville, assisting, along with
USC Upstate’s Dr. Toshua Kennedy, in a study around healthy eating
and active living in church members.
“LiveWell believes in helping us to make the healthy choice the easy
choice,” Gibson said.
CAREER GUIDED BY
LIFELONG LOVE OF
BY JASON EVANS
A dual--degree program with the
University of Applied Sciences Landshut
in Landshut, Germany, is established
Spartanburg County Medical
Society donates historic papers to