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AMWA Member Spotlight – Dolapo Babalola, MD, FAAFP

AMWA Member Dolapo Babalola, MD, FAAFP

  • Founding CEO, Living At Your Finest Wellness

Tell Us About Your Career Path

My mission is that of excellent service to my patients, an advanced learning environment for my learners, and continuous lifelong learning self-development, which has been the catalyst for my career path.

I completed my medical training at the University of Guyana and my Family Medicine residency at Morehouse School of Medicine. To align with my career goals and enhance my knowledge, I completed several other reputable fellowship programs, such as Primary Care Faculty Development, Developing Leaders in Cultural Competency, Medical Student Educators Development Institute, and Leading Emerging and Diverse Scientists for Success. I practiced Clinical and Academic Medicine at Morehouse School of Medicine, Department of Family Medicine for 15 years and climaxed my academic career as Professor and Director of Undergraduate Medical Education and Family Medicine and Rural Health Clerkship before I transitioned to opening my Holistic Direct Primary Care Practice in July 2023.

Until my transition, I participated in scholarly activities that led to presentations at local, regional, and national conferences and published in peer-reviewed journals on medical care, practice improvement, and curricular development for third- and fourth-year students. As the clerkship director, I was involved in active recruitment and retention measures for quality community preceptors for the students. Being an active member of the medical students’ admission committee and co-chair of the STFM Education Column was very rewarding. I was honored to win numerous awards, such as Grady’s Department of Community Medicine Teacher’s Award for her Commitment to Teaching and the Future of Primary Care, Georgia Academy of Family Physician Family Medicine Educator of the Year, Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society, Certificate of Outstanding Achievement & 2021 Georgia Trend Magazine’s Top Doctors list. Community services filled a significant part of my career path as a YMCA Board member to organize Health Fairs and Back to School Activities, which expanded into facilitating free medical student-run clinics and mentorship programs for undergraduate and postgraduate learners.

The most recent change in my professional and personal life trajectory was when I discovered Lifestyle Medicine during the pandemic. I stumbled upon a scholarship opportunity on the American Association of Family Medicine website sponsored by the American College of Lifestyle Medicine for faculty interested in learning about the scientific evidence of the healing effect of healthy lifestyle pillars. This opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time as I embarked upon a holistic healing journey for myself and my family. I learned how to focus on habit-forming modalities as the primary focus for preventing, treating, and reversing lifestyle-related chronic diseases. My way of practicing medicine evolved for the better because it started with me prioritizing my well-being and empowering my patients to do the same by using the six pillars of healthy habits and behaviors:

• Nourishing foods: Whole Foods Plant-Based
• Movement
• Adequate sleep
• Stress reduction measures
• Meaningful social connections
• Avoidance of substances I ceased to question my passion and purpose for life and embraced a new practice that doesn’t compromise my wellness as I care for my patients as they well deserve

What Helped You To Get There

As an active member of the American Academy of Family Medicine, American College of Obesity and Lifestyle Medicine, Georgia Academy of Family Physicians, and the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, I actively participated in committees to collaborate with colleagues and mentors so I can learn and grow. 

Through STFM leadership and medical student education fellowship, I became passionate about enhancing learners’ clinical experiences, so I developed the Family Medicine Sub-Internship at Morehouse School of Medicine and collaborated with colleagues to make it part of the National Curriculum, which subsequently won the research paper of the year. 

GAFP had several opportunities for physicians to improve the diabetes markers of our patients, which I introduced to my practice through diabetes group visits and led to remarkable patient health outcomes. The American Heart Association (AHA) had a fantastic program for patients with Hypertension to help with improved management called the Check. Change. Control Hypertension Management Program. In collaboration with the AHA leader, Mark Mooney, and some of my colleagues, we created a multidisciplinary team to evaluate the program’s effectiveness at Grady East Point Health Center. 

My introduction to the American College of Lifestyle Medicine and the American Board of Obesity Medicine influenced my recent career choices. I learned and practiced a transformative and sustainable way of delivering healthcare focusing on wellness and not sickness, skills, and not pills, the source and not the symptom. I was eager to share this revolutionized way of practicing medicine with my colleagues and learners because it eliminated my burnout experience, thereby renewing my passion for medicine while improving patient autonomy, satisfaction, and health outcomes. I became the Faculty Advisor for the Lifestyle Medicine Interest Group, and thanks to Dr. Sutton for sponsoring the efforts of me being the physician lead for the Walk with A Doc at Morehouse School of Medicine

What Challenges Have You Faced In Your Medical Career

I faced numerous challenges in my medical career, but one thing was certain these challenges made me stronger. I learned from Dr. Harry Strothers, the formal chair of my department, to always see obstacles as opportunities for growth, and so I did. 

My challenges in my medical career were both professional and personal. During the early part of my medical career as a junior faculty, I struggled to believe in my abilities because my environment wasn’t always supportive or encouraging due to others’ belief systems. There were delays in a few of my projects and initiatives for unclear reasons. 

Another major challenge was when I struggled to balance my personal and professional needs. I had “mom and spouse” guilt whenever I had deadlines to meet, which meant I sacrificed my time with my family. Furthermore, I abandoned my well-being, and it became evident in my health through chronic fatigue and inflammation symptoms such as arthritis and hypertension.

Can You Offer Any Advice for Other Women In Medicine?

My advice from my lived experiences is in two fonds: Personally: First: Make a conscious intention to prioritize your health and well-being because you matter. Yes, your family and patients need you, but you need you, and you know you cannot fill out an empty cup. 

My patients saw through me when I was struggling with my health because I was burned out, and it felt like I couldn’t pulse to seek help. The pillars of a healthy lifestyle supported my health restoration through nourishing foods (Whole Foods Plant-Based) movement, adequate sleep, stress reduction measures, meaningful social connections, and avoidance of substances. So grateful to the American College of Lifestyle and Obesity Medicine for emphasizing the importance of physician well-being. 

Second: There is no need to search for balance as I was. Dr. Strothers told me that he had been searching for balance for years and that I should let him know once I found the answer. A better suggestion is to focus on harmony and what that means for you. Every day isn’t going to be the same, and that is okay. Give yourself grace. It is progress and not perfection. 

Professionally: First: Visualize and believe these goals, write them down, and reflect on them frequently. The goals remain the same but be flexible with the methods of achieving the goals. Always find ways to pivot. 

Second: Find a supportive mentor who has worked on your desired path. You are responsible for your career growth, so don’t wait for your mentor to call you. Be respectfully aggressive by continually asking questions and being a lifelong learner.

Have You Had an Ah-Ha Moment

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” This African proverb summarizes my Ah-Ha moment. Even though Dr. Shade Omole, mentor and current chair, emphasized this message repeatedly, it took a life of its own when I practiced it. Collaborating with interdisciplinary teams and different organizations and institutes impacted my career significantly because there were several opportunities for growth with like-minded individuals. I enjoyed the opportunity to mentor and to be mentored.

What Are You Currently Doing Professionally

I am a triple board-certified physician in Family, Obesity, and Lifestyle Medicine, an Adjunct Clinical Professor at Morehouse School of Medicine, and the Founding CEO of Living At Your Finest Wellness, a Holistic Direct Primary Care Practice in East Cobb Marietta, Georgia. I help Families Live At Their Finest using a holistic approach with healthy habits and behaviors to nourish and flourish as whole, vibrant, and healthy champions. As the main focus, these measures help prevent, treat, and reverse lifestyle-related chronic diseases.

 I am passionate about empowering my patients, community, and learners about ways to restore health and wellness by discovering the root cause of preventable diseases. I integrate tools and tips from my health journey and extensive professional training to equip my learners and community through: 

  • Virtual one-on-one health and wellness coaching program. 
  • Online self-guided courses on sleep, stress, natural living, and dynamic movement. 
  • Living At Your Finest YouTube Channel and Podcast Show. 
  • Speaking engagements at churches, corporations, churches, and conferences 
  • Partnership with the Walk with The Doc organization.

About Dr. Babalola

Dolapo Babalola, MD, FAAFP, is active in a few of AMWA initiatives, such as the Obesity Epidemic through the Obesity Action Coalition as one of their champions and with the Unraveling Obesity Organization, where both focus on providing tools to help with obesity education for both practitioners and patients to promote empathy and understanding of the chronic disease. In addition, she has collaborated with the Walk with The Doc organization to create opportunities to walk with community members to have meaningful conversations about improving their health and well-being through disease prevention and treatment. She loves Maya Angelou’s quote, “Do your best until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better. Dr. Babalola joined AMWA committees since becoming a member to continue her passion for preventative measures and reversing chronic lifestyle-related diseases.

AMWA Administration

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