Dr. Kala Bailey: North Texas Society of Psychiatric Physicians Awardfor Outstanding Medical Student in Psychiatry

By LaKisha Ladson

Dr. Kala Bailey was actually inspired to become a physician by an attorney — her grandfather Jack Ritchie.

“He had polio as a child,” Dr. Bailey said. “He wanted to be a physician but didn’t because one of his hands is paralyzed.

“He’s been my biggest encouragement and fan along this journey.”

She grew up in Coppell knowing she would become a doctor. While other girls pretended to mother their dolls, Dr. Bailey was their “doctor.” In junior high she attended camp for teens interested in a medical career. At Texas A&M University she earned her undergraduate degree in biomedical sciences.

Dr. Kala Bailey

She came back to the Dallas area for medical school, while her now-husband, Luke Bailey, attends dental school.

“I loved medical school at 
UT Southwestern,” she said. “Here I made some of the best friends I ever had.”

She also experienced a medical field that previously had never piqued her interest — psychiatry.

“It fit everything I never knew I always wanted,” she said.

She became co-president of the Psychiatry Student Interest Group with Dr. Krista Alexander. Together they applied for and received a $5,000 grant to implement a mental health screening, evaluation and referral program for the university’s student-run free medical clinic.

For that, Drs. Bailey and Alexander are co-recipients of the 2010 North Texas Society of Psychiatric Physicians Award for Outstanding Medical Student in Psychiatry.

“They leave a place in a legacy that will continue to benefit patients in our community in the years ahead,” said Dr. Adam Brenner, associate professor of psychiatry and director of medical student education in psychiatry. “Their energy and organizational skills created the program, but their compassion and professionalism really made it work. I have been inspired by them both.”

Dr. Bailey said she and Dr. Alexander created the program to get students to serve in the mental health field, not just read about it in books.

“It’s getting a lot of students early in their medical school training doing mental health and asking those uncomfortable, intimate questions that we ask in psychiatry,” she said.

“Hopefully, in the next few years more people will choose to go into the psychiatric field,” she said.

For Dr. Bailey, the program was the most meaningful part of her time in medical school.

“It’s amazing,” she said. “These patients didn’t even know there was help for the way they were feeling. We have people who, after we asked the first question, started crying. The patients and their families are extremely grateful for the care we give.”

Dr. Bailey said the program will continue after she graduates. She’ll be able to stay involved as well, because she’ll do her residency at UT Southwestern with hopes of pursing a career in women’s mental health.

That’s good news to Dr. Brenner.

“I’m delighted that Kala is staying here in our residency program,” he said.