From Dropout to Doctor

If you met Benjamin Batson, DO, (Fellowship ’23 and Residency ’20; Nursing ’07) when he was a high school student in Coahoma, Texas, you wouldn’t have predicted much of a future for him. He was an “A” student, but he was bored and aimless; he frequently skipped school and landed in detention. No one — not his parents, teachers or guidance counselor — pushed him academically, Batson said. His dissatisfaction came to a head his senior year, when Batson learned he was short on English credits and would have to stay an extra year.

Instead, he dropped out.

Despite that inauspicious start, Batson, 43, is now a physician specializing in pulmonary and critical care medicine at Covenant Medical Pulmonary Clinic in Lubbock, Texas. One reason for his success is his determination: Batson eventually figured out what he wanted to do — work in health care — and he didn’t let anything stop him. “It wasn’t the straightest path,” Batson admits. “But once I put my mind to something, you can knock me down over and over, and I’m just going to get up again.”

Benjamin Batson in his clinic
Neal Hinkle
Benjamin Batson, DO, (Fellowship ’23 and Residency ’20; Nursing ’07)
Batson isn’t sure where the independent streak came from. His parents divorced when he was 8, and he lost a close friend in a drowning accident as a teenager. Somewhere in the mix, he says, he found a way to depend only on himself.

Shortly after quitting high school, Batson passed his GED and enrolled at Texas State Technical College. He studied for his diploma as a licensed vocational nurse while working as an EMT for an ambulance service. Working while going to school became a theme. Batson secured a nursing job in the medical intensive care unit at University Medical Center (UMC) in Lubbock. In his 10 years of full-time work there, he completed an LVN-to-RN program, earned a BSN and completed his medical school prerequisites.

Batson left UMC for the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Worth, Texas, commuting back to Lubbock every other weekend to see his wife and two children. After a residency in family medicine and fellowship in pulmonary and critical care at TTUHSC, he joined Covenant in September 2023.

“To go from a high school dropout to a certified pulmonary critical care physician — you probably won’t find that anywhere else,” said Kenneth Nugent, MD, director of the Pulmonary/Critical Care Fellowship at TTUHSC, who sees a lesson in Batson’s experience. “If you want to do more with your career, there are opportunities in the education system that you can go after. You may not find it easy because you essentially have to do two jobs. But you can do it.”