Centre Stage with … Dr Sema Kuyruk

Centre Stage with … Dr Sema Kuyruk

Dr Sema Kuyruk is a medical doctor currently working in Melbourne and initially completed an undergraduate double-degree in Law and Science with a major in physiology at the University of Melbourne. During her undergraduate studies, Dr Kuyruk’s predominant research interests involved exploring the rights of women and children in modern society along with Public Interest Law as well as Health and Medical Law. She is passionate about advocating for the rights of women and children, and believes that helping women stay informed is key to achieving this aim. She is also a lover of art, fashion and all things caffeinated.

1. I don’t know many doctors with a law degree. How did that come about?
I don’t think you really know what you enjoy or what you’re good at when you’re 18 and fresh out of
high school. I thought I would be good at law but when I started I found that I didn’t enjoy it very
much and found myself drawn to my science degree instead. I was only half way through my law
degree when I decided that I wasn’t going to be a lawyer, but I am not really one to leave things half
way, so I committed to finishing it. I then went on and completed my medical studies as a
postgraduate.

2. Do you think your background in law has made you a better doctor?
I think the study of law gives you good critical thinking skills which helps you in medicine all the time.
Law teaches you to negotiate and mediate and has a large emphasis on communication. It allowed
me to develop a repertoire of communication skills which are essential in navigating the hospital
system, and working closely with patients and their families.

3. What’s the most challenging aspect of your role?
Dealing with unwell people and their families is one of the most challenging aspects of being a
doctor. It requires a great deal of empathy and understanding, as well as medical expertise, to really
become a good doctor. It is a career which also requires a lot of dedication, discipline and hard work
– like an apprenticeship which never really ends. There are constantly exams and further study to
complete which can wear you down.

4. What’s the best career of advice you were given?
Work hard and stay humble!

5. If you could go back in time, would you do anything differently?
I don’t think I would change anything. Things happen as they are supposed to. I used to question
why I spent so long at university but now, having started working as a doctor, I realise that my background gives me a unique skillset making all those years of study worth it.

6. What advice can you give to those who haven’t decided on their career path?
Complete a degree that is general but which can lead into a variety of different career pathways, like
a science or an arts degree. But be good at it, be very good at it, so when you graduate and you know
what you want to do, you can.

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