We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Khaalisha Ajala, MD and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dr. Khaalisha, what role has risk played in your life or career?
As a physician who works with patients at a very busy hospital during the current COVID-19 pandemic, I assume a lot of risk. It’s so very worth it! Also, when I travel abroad to other continents while I educate young physicians and medical students, I assume more risk. Taking risks has played a large role in my pursuit to become a physician and I think that it has been worth the investment. I’m a Black woman who was once a little Black girl that dreamt of being a doctor, so I took a many risks to become what I could only imagine. We all fight to create the world that we dream about and I’m definitely not any different.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I think that I’m most proud of navigating the world of academic medicine and maintaining my very specific identity. I love my community so I serve them. I love hip-hop so I live it. I love global health and travel so I do it! I am proud of my humanitarian and advocacy awards. I was blown away by being listed as one of Okay Africa’s 100 women as well. I was in some serious company! It definitely was not easy to get to where I am today. Training as a physician was exhausting most of the time but my growth has been priceless! I have learned is that as a Black woman physician, I carry the weight of wanting to right so many wrongs that I see happening in my community. I have tried to do my part with my nonprofit Heartbeats & HipHop. I do my best but I have remind myself to balance. My husband is better at reminding me! I think I would want the world to know that I care and am willing to do the work.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If I had a no holds barred wish list and COVID-19 was completely controlled? I would take them straight to old Sound Table to watch DJ Kemit spin. We would stop by The Gathering Spot for a private dinner and to attend a cool tech event. A great place for a morning lavender coffee is Little Tart. There is no better french toast sandwich at Le Petit Marche. They can’t leave town without stopping by Moods Music for cool vibes, great books and apparel. Oh… and would have to stop by The James which is the coolest speakeasy in Atlanta.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to dedicate my shoutout to Dr. Daniel Howard, MD, my first mentor in medicine. My mother is a nurse who worked with him. I shadowed him in Baltimore, MD during my first two summers in college. He gave me access to the world of medicine while observing his work at a hospital, two clinics and a nursing home. He taught me everything from how to obtain a patient’s history to bedside manner. He really believed in me and that is so pivotal.
Melissa Alexander and DJAdamsphotography