LUMBERTON — Joshua Freeman was born and raised in Robeson County, growing up near Orrum.
After graduating from Fairmont High School in 2007, he attended the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where he received his bachelor’s degree in nursing. After graduation, Freeman worked at Duke Raleigh Hospital between the neuroscience and medical intensive care units. He joined Southeastern Health in 2014 after completing his master’s degree from UNC Chapel Hill in Nursing as a nurse practitioner.
At the Southeastern Neurological Center, an affiliate of Southeastern Health, Freeman works with patients who are having cranial (brain) and spine surgery, helping diagnose and treat issues such as brain bleeds, tumors, and neck and back pain. The center also offers spine surgery to fix unstable or bulging discs, and other spine surgeries. Freeman also covers calls periodically to respond to trauma/emergency cases.
At the same time he’s working with the Southeastern Neurological Center, he’s also a doctoral student at UNC Wilmington, where he will graduate in May with his doctorate in nursing practice.
“I feel like I received a great educational foundation in the local school system that prepared me for my undergraduate and graduate degrees,” he said. “My 10th-grade science teacher, Sarah Griffin Jones, sparked my interest in the medical field. I was always very interested in math and science in high school, and I had many teachers who were instrumental in shaping my future.”
An important part of his high school experience was the Future Farmers of America club. He was president of his school’s chapter during his senior year.
“FFA was a big part of my high school,” he said. “FFA helped me build leadership skills, that’s one of its main foundations. FFA also fostered teamwork, networking and communication. Those things helped me tremendously, professionally.”
With both of his parents in law enforcement, Freeman said he knew they expected him to take his education seriously.
“They were making sure I was doing what I needed to do, and made sure I was in school,” he said. “Parents have to be involved in their child’s education, it’s just as much their responsibility as it is the school’s.”
Freeman never really doubted that he would come back to Robeson County.
“I loved working at UNC and Duke, but I wanted to bring that knowledge and experience back to Robeson County,” he said. “I’m connected to this community. If patients can receive this type of care in Lumberton, close to home, it is much easier on them. We try extremely hard to treat patients locally and keep them close to home because patients do better when they have their local support system.”
Since returning to Robeson County, Freeman has seen some of his childhood teachers as patients.
“It’s kind of a full circle,” he said. “Each one gave me a building block for my education and career, and now I am able to give something back to them.”
Roxana Ross is content writer/photographer for Southeastern Health in the Corporate Communications department.