Dr Bora Akyürek is one of the most committed vaccinators in the region. His activities are up close and personal and often unconventional. Whether in a club, a church, a local sports arena or a mosque - and of course in his three medical practices - the 45-year-old German-Turkish general practitioner is passionately dedicated to human health. As a vaccinator, he fights against the spread of the coronavirus. Akyürek is a true native of Ulm. Not only was he born and raised in Ulm, he even studied at Ulm University from 1997 to 2003.
Dr Bora Akyürek is in his car on the way to the Allgäu region, heading off during the carnival week for a long weekend with his wife and five children, three of them his own and two of their friends. Finally, some time for the family, who hasn’t seen enough of him the last few weeks and months. After all, Akyürek is a general practitioner and a vaccinator. His three practices were among the first offices in Ulm to have a focus on covid. To say that he is a busy man would be an understatement. He works around the clock, from early in the morning until late in the evening. This is the reason the telephone interview takes place while he’s in his car, heading off for a long weekend away.
The local doctor knows just how important low-threshold offers are in fighting the spread of the coronavirus. The fact that Akyürek is able to reach so many people is not only due to his dedication and professional yet friendly manner, but also to the international flair that he cultivates in his office. Together with his employed physicians, the general practitioner covers eight languages: Turkish, Romanian, Hungarian, English, French, Russian, Ukranian, German – of course - and even Swabian! “I’m a real Ulm native. I grew up here and I studied here. And of course I speak the Swabian dialect with my Swabian patients!” relates Akyürek, who has Turkish roots.
I wouldn’t have been able to afford a place of my own, even though I was working.
His mother is from central Anatolia, from a small village in Kirsehir. As a single parent, she didn’t have an easy time in Germany. She had to work a lot, early mornings in the Donautal industrial zone and then in the evenings she cleaned. Bora Akyürek has his mother to thank that he studied medicine: “She always supported me as best as she could”, he remembers. Akyürek is aware of the fact that the path he took was very unusual for someone of his circumstances. A medical degree is far from being the norm for people with a Turkish background. He certainly had the good marks in school that he needed for studying. “I went to Anna Essinger Gymnasium in Ulm and was already very interested in science and medicine as an intermediate student”, says Akyürek. By a stroke of luck, he was awarded a place to study in Ulm in 1997, meaning that he could stay at home. “I wouldn’t have been able to afford a place of my own, even though I was working a lot”, says the local doctor. Early on in his studies, the medical student often helped his mother clean in the evenings and later on he became a tutor at the University and taught first-year students. He still has close contact with some of his fellow students from back then.
Akyürek’s clinical specialisations included internal medicine and later on general medicine. After completing his degree, he was employed full-time at the Donauklinik in Neu-Ulm from 2003 to 2008, and after that he continued to do night duty on a part-time basis for two more years. At this early stage in his career, Dr Bora Akyürek already noticed that hospital medicine wasn’t a very good fit for him. “The work isn’t very family-friendly, and you’ve always got a chief physician or senior physician above you. The system is so inflexible, you can’t contribute any of your own ideas”, he criticises. Thus, in 2008 he moved to a general practitioner’s office in Offenhausen, where he completed his specialisation in general medicine. Akyürek had wanted to become a general practitioner and that’s where he ultimately found his calling.
If something needs doing, I just do it.
In 2010, he founded his first medical practice in Ulm’s city centre, and later on two offices followed in Söflingen and on Eselsberg. General practitioners are very close to the patients, in direct contact with people, which is very important to Akyürek. Just as important as the feeling of independence. “I am my own boss and I can easily implement my own ideas. And when my colleagues have suggestions, I take them into consideration”, says the practice owner, who sees himself as a laid-back boss. A good working relationship is important to him at all levels. Dr Bora Akyürek isn’t very fond of hierarchies or the image of the physician as a “demi-god in white”. Everyone in his office is allowed to call him by his first name. Having grown up in simple conditions, he feels more closely connected to ordinary people anyway. Fancy styles and special treatments are not his thing. “My office is not really that suitable for private patients”, admits the athletic young man, smiling mischievously.
Dr Bora Akyürek is rather unconventional in his appearance as well. His black hair is worn either very short, like on the group photo of his office team, or a bit longer in a hipster style with a beard. During a vaccination event at the local music club Gleis 44, it was his white Crocs that gave him away as a vaccinator during the informative chats on the dance floor. He’s so cool and laid-back in the way he interacts with the primarily young guests that people tend to think he’s a club operator rather than a physician. The unusual doctor is full of energy and drive. “I’m the kind of person who doesn’t think too much. If something needs doing, I just do it, sometimes to the annoyance of my wife”, Akyürek admits. Sleeping on it for one night has to be enough. He realises that he sometimes overburdens himself and others with his manner. But the father of three also has a very different side. He is also disciplined, ambitious and determined. It’s not an option for him to start something and then just stop because he doesn’t feel like doing it anymore. When it comes to raising their children, he and his wife are in agreement on this point. He is also very grateful to her for taking care of their children and having his back. He realises that he wouldn’t be able to manage all of his professional commitments otherwise.
For all young people who are interested in medicine, Dr Bora Akyürek has a personal message: “Being a general practitioner is a great profession!” He speaks as someone who has a direct connection to his patients and can provide immediate help. However, he has also experienced much hostility as a result of his commitment to vaccination, which is why he has deactivated his private social media channels. “Sure, there’s trouble sometimes, and this is a profession in which you’re confronted with severe disease and death. Over time, however, I’ve developed a good way of dealing with these things professionally”, assures the physician from Ulm. For him, general medicine is the supreme medical discipline and working in his own general practitioner’s office is still his dream job. “If you do it well, you can earn good money, too”, Akyürek adds with a smile.