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Charleroi doctor to be featured on WQED show

| Saturday, March 16, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Dr. Lawrence Gipson

In pursuit of his goal, Dr. Lawrence Gipson worked myriad of part-time jobs while attending college and medical school.

The biggest obstacle to becoming a doctor was the cost of his education, Gipson said.

“I did everything from (working in) steel mills to food warehouse, sewage disposal plant, selling magazines door to door, working in a scrap yard, and working on a farm,” said Gipson, who has practiced ophthalmology in Charleroi since 1980.

“My goal was to become a physician and in order to become that, it required a sacrifice both of myself and my parents. My parents worked several jobs, and I worked part-time jobs to pay for my education.

“It made for some long hours, but worth it in the end.”

Gipson will be featured as part of the ongoing WQED public television series, “Portrayal & Perception: African American Men & Boys.”

Gipson will be featured in the episode “Journey To Medicine,” which is scheduled to air 7:30 p.m. Monday.

The series “reports on African American men and boys in positive and mentoring roles,” said George Hazimanolis, senior director of corporate communications for WQED.

“Journey to Medicine” focuses on the road to medical professions.

In addition to Gipson, the episode profiles radiation oncologist Dr. Dwight Heron and historian Dr. Larry Glasco. The episode also follows a few medical students, and details an innovative program that introduces young African American students to medicine.

Gipson said he was interviewed about what it takes to become a physician and some of his experiences in the medical field.

“Journey to Medicine” follows the path of those in the profession, from studying to become a doctor into the practice of medicine, “and the things we can do in our society to help someone become a successful doctor,” Gipson noted.

“My biggest advantage was a good family and good parents,” Gipson said. “Both of my parents were high school graduates, but they valued hard, honest work. They knew the importance of academic achievement and they instilled that in all of us.”

Gipson and his siblings are all professionals. His sister is a behavioral scientist and his brother is an attorney.

Gipson attended Elizabeth Forward High School through his sophomore year before finishing high school in Philadelphia.

He earned an undergraduate degree at Andrews University in Michigan. Gipson earned his medical degree in 1976 and his specialty in eye surgery in 1980, both at the University of Pittsburgh.

In addition to his office at 305 McKean Ave., Charleroi, he also has an office in Pittsburgh.

Gipson said he was recruited by a group of doctors to open the Valley office.

Gipson said the medical profession has changed over the 33 years he has been in practice.

“There are more demands on physicians in terms of keeping up with the rapidly changing field of medicine and surgery, and increased demands from patients,” Gipson said.

But the common denominator between his Charleroi and Pittsburgh practices is the patients.

“There are no difference in terms of what patients needs are,” Gipson said. “All patients need a thorough explanation along with treatment to fit their needs. But it's always done with compassion.”

Gipson said the message he hoped to give in the documentary is: “That a good student comes from a good family, a good community and a caring government.”

“I see myself as a role model for minority and non-minority students,” Gipson said. ‘All of us in all our fields have a responsibility to be a good example for young people striving to reach their goals.”

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or