March 16, 2015

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Josh Batson: VSU Alum Discusses Nursing, Neurology, and Future Migraine Clinic

NOTE: This story appeared in the March 2015 issue of Your Health Matters, a special publication published monthly by The Valdosta Daily Times. 

VALDOSTA — A two–time Valdosta State University College of Nursing and Health Sciences graduate, Joshua “Josh” Batson can be found wearing his white coat and improving the lives of his friends and neighbors at the office of Dr. Jonathan Sule, neurologist, and Dr. Judit Sule, family medicine practitioner. He prefers to focus his time and attention on diagnosing and treating disorders of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, muscles, and the involuntary nervous system that controls the heart, lungs, and other organs. He sees patients with all sorts of neurologic conditions every day, the most common complaints being migraines, multiple sclerosis, seizure disorders, spine conditions, Parkinson’s disease, and various forms of neuropathy.

Batson, 32, first entered Valdosta State University in the summer of 2009. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in May of 2012 and accepted a position in the Cardiac Progressive Care Unit at South Georgia Medical Center. A year later, he transferred to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, where he remained until he joined the Sules’ practice. During that time, he returned to Valdosta State University, earning a second degree, this one a Master of Science in Nursing, specifically on the Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Program track, in December 2014. 

“I realized early on in my nursing career that what I enjoyed most about my job was educating the patient on their disease and the treatment plan,” said the 2012 recipient of Valdosta State University’s Dr. Joan Futch Leadership Award. “Being a nurse practitioner allows me to maximize the time I spend doing that.”  

Batson noted that it was Dr. Jonathan Sule who convinced him to give the field of neurology a try, even though he had spent his whole career in the field of cardiology.

“His vision of patient care and mine lined up well, and from the beginning, he made it clear that he ran his clinic from a Christian standpoint,” Batson added. “When he referred to his patients as part of his family and said he frequently prays with them, I knew I had found the physician I wanted to work for and mentor me. At that point, it didn't matter what specialty it was; I was all in.”

Batson is a member of CrossPointe Church and has been known to lead LifeGroup, a Bible study class, there on occasion. He also devotes time to helping his wife, Christine Batson, operate Valdosta ONE Lunch, an organization that delivers lunches to less fortunate children when school is out for the summer or holidays, as some children rely heavily on school-provided lunches for food. He grew up in Lake Butler, Fla., a small city located about 90 minutes south of Valdosta, just north of Gainesville, Fla.. He currently lives in Hahira with his family, including daughters Kallee, Lily, and Natalie and cats George Bush and Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt.

Q: When did you know that you wanted to pursue a career in the field of nursing?

A: Now that I look back, nursing seems to have been my destiny. My grandmother was a nurse in the Air Force. My mother was a nurse. I married a nurse. I fought it as long as I could, but ultimately I could no longer resist. I think the moment I actually entertained the idea was during a conversation with my wife where she was talking about her job in Labor and Delivery. I remember thinking, What better career could you have than one helping people, making a good living, having a good family-work balance, and to have skills that are always in demand.

Q: What do you enjoy most about the work you do each day?

A: Our patient population consists of late adolescence through older adulthood. I think the most rewarding part of my job is seeing a patient that has come to us due to a health issue that is impacting their life in some way, and through various treatments, we are able to give them back the quality of life they’ve been missing. We see all neurologic conditions but most commonly migraines, multiple sclerosis, seizure disorders, spine conditions, Parkinson’s, and various forms of neuropathy.

Q: What is most challenging about the work you do each day, or maybe just the field of nursing in general? 

A: The most challenging part of my day is seeing patient after patient who is suffering. People don’t usually go to the doctor or hospital because they feel great and are having a fantastic day. They come to us for help and guidance, and after a long day, it can wear on you. However, it is all worth it when, during a follow-up appointment, a patient tells you that, through your efforts, you have given them their life back, enabled them to be able to pick up their grandchild again, or given them their first headache-free week in years.

Q: Why did you choose Valdosta State University's School of Nursing? 

A: My wife went to nursing school at VSU. We were familiar with the program and felt it was a good fit for me to be able work part-time while attending full-time. 

Q: How would you describe your experience in the new Health Sciences and Business Administration Building?

A: My Bachelor of Science in Nursing was earned in the “old” nursing building and so was four semesters of my master’s. I’ll say this, after getting to use a few of the clinical labs, I’m jealous of all the current students. It might be enough to persuade me to come back and get my doctorate once that program is up and running — just don’t tell my wife (wink wink)!

Q: What has the transition from student to working professional been like for you?

A: When I first started my nursing career in the Cardiac Progressive Care Unit at South Georgia Medical Center, it was terrifying to think I had someone’s life in the palm of my hands, but I have been blessed that, at each step of my career, I have been supported by some really fantastic nurses and doctors. Many of these people have become good friends. Now, as a provider, I am responsible for diagnosing and developing treatment plans. That’s a lot of responsibility and is exciting and terrifying all at the same time. I have had good mentors in Dr. Myron Faircloth, a practicing family nurse practitioner at Peach City Walk-In Clinic LLC in Morven and G & G Family Medicine MD PC in Valdosta and assistant professor of nursing in VSU’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences, and Dr. Jonathan Sule to help guide me along the way. 

Q: Anything interesting in your current field that you wish to study further and possibly have published in a professional journal?  

A: Yes, I’m really excited about becoming an expert in migraines. Migraines are a condition that is near to my heart because my wife suffers from severe chronic migraines. I have seen over the years, firsthand, how debilitating they can be. I think it is hard for people to understand the severity of the condition if they or their close loved ones have never experienced it. We plan to open a migraine clinic in the near future that will be able to treat acute migraine episodes on a walk-in basis. This will be huge for our community of Valdosta, because as it stands now, if you are having an acute migraine attack, your options are limited to going to the Emergency Room or just suffering through it. The opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives and in the community is huge!

Valdosta State University’s 2013-2019 Strategic Plan represents a renewal of energy and commitment to the foundational principles for comprehensive institutions.

Implementation of the plan’s five goals, along with their accompanying objectives and strategies, supports VSU’s institutional mission and the University System of Georgia’s mission for comprehensive universities. 

The story above demonstrates VSU's commitment to meeting the following goals: 

Goal 1: Recruit, retain, and graduate a quality, diverse student population and prepare students for roles as leaders in a global society.

Goal 3: Promote student, employee, alumni, retiree, and community engagement in our mission.

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