Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Bryan Batson

Dr. Bryan Batson shares about his time at UMMC, memorable moments from training, and what he’s up to now.

First tell us about you and your time at UMMC.

The eight years I spent during medical school and residency at UMMC were among the best of my life. That being said, it was definitely not a smooth start for me.  With an undergraduate degree in petroleum engineering, I learned quickly and painfully during the first year of medical school that preparing for tests was quite different and required a lot more than just attending class, understanding the principles being taught, and working a few practice problems the night before the exam.  Just a few days in to Gross Anatomy, I was reminded why I didn’t gravitate toward a pre-med undergraduate curriculum…I wasn’t very good at memorization.  Needless to say, the entire first year was tough, and it was not a huge surprise to receive an infamous “Linc-o-gram” from Dr. Lincoln Arceneaux letting me know that I was in a precarious position after the first semester.  Thankfully, I survived those first two years by learning how to memorize and with the encouragement of some great classmates who became lifelong friends.  I also met my future wife on the night before we began our second year, and she was a constant encourager and friend despite a study routine in the Middleton Library that I had to adopt in order to survive. While there were certainly many times throughout the first two years when I thought it would’ve been a much better fit to be doing math on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, things changed dramatically in the third and fourth years for the better as we moved into clinical rotations and began to put the knowledge from the first two years into practice. Following medical school, I completed a Med-Peds residency at UMMC and was fortunate enough to learn alongside great residents in both the Internal Medicine and Pediatrics programs.

Where are you now and what are you doing?

After residency, I joined Hattiesburg Clinic in 2003 and have been with the organization since then. I initially practiced in a traditional internal medicine capacity, but toward the end of my first year, I began working with our nephrology department to develop a referral center for refractory hypertension and early chronic kidney disease. Building that practice was challenging but extremely rewarding as it was in line with my greatest clinical interests.  Having mentors like Dan Jones, Marion Wofford, and Kimberly Harkins while at UMMC had a lasting impact on my professional development, and I was given the chance to model Hattiesburg Clinic’s version of a hypertension clinic in the mold of what had been developed in Jackson, including clinical research and teaching. In 2010, I was tapped to lead the organization’s conversion of medical records to Epic, and I was named the Chief Medical Informatics Officer in 2013.  Over the next several years, I began to take on more administrative responsibilities, but I thankfully was able to continue in my clinical duties as well.  In 2015, I was named Medical Director of the organization’s Quality Management Department and in 2016 added the role of medical director of our Accountable Care Organization and Value-based plans. I moved into the role of Chief Executive Officer in 2020.

On the personal side, while at UMMC, I married Amy Baier, a New Orleans native and Millsaps graduate who went on to get her MBA while I was completing residency.  Shortly after moving to Hattiesburg, we welcomed our first of three daughters, who are now ages 18, 16, and 12.  When not working, we try to spend time together on the tennis court, going to LSU games, or at the beach. This year, we have cherished the last several months with all five of us under the same roof with the oldest leaving for college this fall.

What do you miss most about UMMC?

Far and away, what I miss most about UMMC are the people.  I met some of the greatest friends I have ever had, and I learned from some of the smartest, most generous, and kind faculty anyone could ask to have.  Both the internal medicine and pediatrics residency programs were top-notch, and they carried expectations of excellence which connected us and fostered a level of teamwork that was extraordinary. My experience was that competition amongst individuals almost always took a backseat to collaboration and focusing on patient care, and I’ve tried to carry those principles with me in my career since leaving UMMC.

Share a memory or more of your time here at UMMC.

  • The overwhelming feeling of terror while sitting in the auditorium during the first day of class, only to be topped by the surreal experience of walking into the Gross Anatomy lab for the first time and meeting our cadaver.
  • Monday nights during the 2nd year of medical school since our Monday test schedule didn’t allow for much personal time.
  • The shift from internal medicine to pediatrics every three months was always a jolt, but it was never more intimidating than the times the Med-Peds residents moved from NICU to the VA ICU. I still remember and appreciate the patience that fellow residents had with me as I reoriented myself in those cycles.
  • The traditions of “Camp Shirley” with Dr. Schlessinger, the annual “Whine and Dine” dinner at Dr. Megason’s
  • Outpatient clinic at the Medical Mall with Drs. Files and Jackson
  • VA rounds with Dr. Dreiling and medical Jeopardy
  • Trying to catch quick naps in the Snavely Lounge while on call and carrying a waist-full of pagers
  • Being drenched with sweat after making the trek across the parking lot from UMMC to the VA in the sweltering heat.  Related, the panic of realizing you didn’t have an umbrella to make the trip back in the middle of a summer pop-up thunderstorm.
  • Being part of the day-long process of transporting all of the NICU babies one-by-one in their incubators from the original children’s hospital to the brand-new Wiser facility.
  • Being on call the night the VA converted from paper charts to electronic medical records and being reminded many times that night that the staff would not take any orders unless they were entered into the computer.
  • Being sure to avoid extra float call by staying up to date on charts and being thankful that certain individuals who will remain unnamed didn’t always stay current.
My LSU crew at the 2019 playoff game versus Oklahoma

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