Meet Associate Professor (Dr) Vicki Kotsirilos AM
AFMW’s first monthly ‘Herstory’ features one of our esteemed members, A/Prof Vicki Kotsirilos AM. We hope that you enjoy learning something new about aspects of mentoring through Vicki and you can learn more about her amazing career by connecting directly with her on LinkedIn.
Vicki’s generous contributions continue to make an impact in medicine and the environment. We present her mentoring journey below, as she kindly shares her wisdom with us in our first AFMW Herstory contribution.
Vicki is a respected general practitioner in Melbourne, Australia with many years of clinical experience who emphasises lifestyle and preventative medicine.
In June 2016, Vicki was awarded a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia in four categories: ‘significant service to integrative medicine, to health practitioner standards and regulations, to medical education, and to the environment’.
This is Vicki’s story.
Now nearing 60 years of age, still working in a busy general practice, continuing to be a strong voice within the medical and wider community through teaching and writing, I feel it is my turn to help support and nurture younger people’s aspirations.
I believe I am still learning, growing, and evolving, and open to new mentors as my life journey continues. I reflect upon my own mentors in the past who have helped shape me as a strong woman and how they influenced my path and journey in life.
I am immensely grateful to my mentors. I believe I chose my mentors as required for my own purposes during my informative years, education and working days – from primary and high school, university days, during the five years of hospital training, in teaching environments and in general practice to this day.
I was privileged to have great (and bad) teachers and medical supervisors who recognised my inner strengths. Fortunately, my instincts picked what was right for me and ignored what was not. I allowed myself to be guided by my own intuition and trusted my mentors to support the journey and path I was driven by.
My choice of mentors was based on those who inspired and fulfilled my needs at the time. They taught me well, and I modelled them to adapt to the work I was involved with. My mentors included older women and men; the choice was not gender based.
Women I valued more as friends and emotionally supportive. Most of my mentors were men. As I moved to different roles and positions, I was blessed to work with very kind supervisors. I too, want to be a good mentor to younger people and convey similar features as I had the greatest teachers to teach me. My mentors shared similar characteristics and features that I admired and resonated with.
- Loved by the wider community and held with great respect
- Leaders and respected in their own fields
- Kind and gently spoken
- Fun to be with, yet intelligent and wise
- Relaxed and willing to learn from their students, including myself
- Humble and kind – if I thanked them, they thanked me back
- Grateful and conveyed a sense of importance in me
- Actively listening and recognised my strengths, goodness and well intentions
- Guiding me and carved a pathway to allow me to grow
- Seeing power and greatness in me and
- Providing me opportunities for further growth!!
These are the features I resonated with, passively and subconsciously learnt from, adopted, and reflected. I was constantly in awe and grateful to my mentors. I held them with utmost respect.
My key message to others
My Pearls of Wisdom: So, if I was to share any wisdom from experience to younger people, I would suggest the following points may be of help but, it is up to you to choose which of those points you resonate with and yearn to learn from:
- Find a mentor who inspires you and respect in your life and/or work
- Share the passion you hold, inspiring others to share your vision and goals
- Seek support with like-minded people within your community
- Always use respectful and kind dialogue – people are more likely to read respectful emails, than harsh ones
- Have fun in your journey through life
- Allow yourself to be inspired and heartened by the littlest acts of goodness that take place in your life – receive compliments with gratitude
- If your vision and actions uphold something good and worthy, that vision will be shared by others too.
- Nurture your passion -be relentless and persevere.
- Never focus on negative knockbacks or diverse opinions; just learn from them and divert your course and find other solutions.
- Don’t measure your goals and success in time- major goals can occur later in life unexpectedly.
- Practice gratefulness and mindfulness with every kind act – including when people open doors for you
- Simplify life, look after yourself with a healthy lifestyle (e.g. diet, exercise, reduce stress, sleep restoration, rest) and conserve your energies to do what you really want to do!
Believe in yourself
Truly believe your goals, vision, and passion. Persevere, develop resilience, forgive, let go and don’t get caught up in the negatives. Find common ground with people you need to work with. Find a mentor that you admire and seek the qualities in them that you choose to adopt. First do good for yourself, before your family and friends and the wider community. Take good care of yourself. Doctors have a powerful and respectful voice in the community and can help create change for a better world, but it is important not to experience feelings of burnout.
Self-care where the journey starts
Ensure that you nurture yourself physically, spiritually, and emotionally by being with family and friends who are kind, care and support you. Find fulfilling work and if you are not happy and can’t change your situation, consider it a good learning lesson, and move on to another role. There is a lesson in every experience – good or bad.
Follow your passion and heart
As a doctor you have a powerful respectful voice; the community value you and any contributions you can offer. If you have a passion for something good, be open to learning and become the expert. We are intelligent. Find and speak to a mentor for guidance. Follow your passion!
Thank you A/Prof Vicki Kotsirilos for all you do and for sharing your story with AFMW.
We hope you all look forward to reading the next installments from some of our other members in our monthly Herstory update.
President, Australian Federation of Medical Women
The online AFMW Herstory E-Book, gives AFMW members the opportunity to contribute to the AFMW oral tapestry, by forming a compilation of ‘our mentoring stories’, in which we honour those who have changed our lives. Making this an online AFMW story book, encourages us each to consider contributing to building this over the years, into a collection of medical women’s ‘key take home messages’, as we share the wisdom we each have gained from our own lived experiences. The ‘golden nugget of wisdom’ that we would share with someone who asked us about what we have learned.
Add Your Story
If you would like to contribute your story, please download the Herstory template (Word doc), add your details and return the completed form to [email protected]. Please also submit a photo of yourself with this. It can be a ‘selfie’ taken with a good camera that you would be happy to have others see.
Associate Professor Magdalena Simonis AM is the President of the AFMW (2020-) and former President of VMWS (2013 & 2017-2020). She is a full time clinician who also holds positions on several not for profit organisations, driven by her passion for bridging gaps across the health sector. She is a leading women’s health expert, keynote speaker, climate change and gender equity advocate and government advisor.
Magdalena was awarded a lifetime membership of the RACGP for her contributions which include past chair of Women in General Practice, longstanding contribution to the RACGP Expert Committee Quality Care, the RACGP eHealth Expert Committee. She is regularly invited to comment on primary care research though mainstream and medical media and contributes articles on various health issues through newsGP and other publications.
Magdalena has represented the RACGP at senate enquiries and has worked on several National Health Framework reviews. She is author of the RACGP Guide on Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery and co-reviewer of the RACGP Red Book Women’s Health Chapter, and reviewer of the RACGP White book
Both an RACGP examiner and University examiner, she undertakes general practice research and is a GP Educator with the Safer Families Centre of Research Excellence, which develops education tools to assist the primary care sector identify, respond to and manage family violence . Roles outside of RACGP include the Strategy and Policy Committee for Breast Cancer Network Australia, Board Director of the Melbourne University Teaching Health Clinics and the elected GP representative to the AMA Federal Council. In 2022. she was award the AMA (Vic) Patrick Pritzwald-Steggman Award 2022, which celebrates a doctor who has made an exceptional contribution to the wellbeing of their colleagues and the community and was listed as Women’s Agenda 2022 finalist for Emerging Leader in Health.
Magdalena has presented at the United Nations as part of the Australian Assembly and was appointed the Australian representative to the World Health Organisation, World Assembly on COVID 19, by the Medical Women’s International Association (MWIA) in 2021. In 2023, A/Professor Simonis was included on the King’s COVID-19 Champion’s list and was also awarded a Member (AM) in the General Division for significant service to medicine through a range of roles and to women’s health.