Remarkable Women: Dr. Kay Durst

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – For many, Dr. Kay Durst embodies the best in service, compassion, and achievement. She has her hands in many endeavors to help heal, uplift, and improve our communities all while continuing a family tradition of improving lives for generations of families throughout the Lowcountry.  

Coming from a family of doctors, Dr. Durst is a third-generational family medicine physician who has worked in a doctor’s office since her childhood — even now, she shares a practice with her father, Dr. George Durst, on Sullivan’s Island.

“I just love helping people and healing, and I love the sciences. I am a third-generation family medicine physician, so I’ve been working in our office since I was a little kid,” she said.

Dr. Durst started out handling the charts in her father and grandfather’s Sullivan’s Island practice.

“The practice here where I work has been around for over seventy-five years. It was started by my grandfather. He was one of the first physicians in the area,” she explained.

She graduated from the Medical University of South Carolina, did her residency in Florida, and started a practice there. But Dr. Durst moved back home to make a difference in her hometown.

“It’s really family medicine for generations.  We’ve seen patients that have been coming here for fifty-something years, and that’s pretty remarkable so we see grandparents, grandkids, the family,” she said.

Dr. Durst is a board-certified family medicine physician, practicing for more than twenty-four years. She is a fellow of the American Association of Family Practitioners. In 2022, Durst was elected as president of the Charleston County Medical Society, only the second female since its founding.

While juggling the demands of being a busy doctor, wife, and mother, she’s also a community leader.

Dr. Durst continues to make volunteerism a top priority, including her work with many organizations, Be Brave Buddies, March of Dimes, and efforts to help close the gap in health care disparities with Dr. Thaddeus Bell.

“I learned a lot about that through my grandfather and father when they practice and started. There were no other physicians in the area, so when Six Mile was there, they were the physicians, and you got to go into the home and really understand what’s going on with someone’s health care, and then there was no insurance, so the payback was maybe ‘I’ll make you some shrimp and grits’ or ‘here is some corn.’

Dr. Durst credits her family for giving her the heart to help. “I go back to my roots at looking at my grandfather and father, and my mom giving back to the community, and I just love helping people. I think it’s important for the community to see leaders in health care out there,” she said.

Dr. Durst is an active volunteer in local schools and supports environmental endeavors. She also serves as a mentor for medical students.

“I was in a time when I practiced, there weren’t as many women in medicine or minorities in medicine, so I’m fighting a lot for those missions to change a lot of things for the betterment of all of us,” said Dr. Durst.

While her work continues, she hopes her legacy extends beyond medicine and reflects her heart for service.

“I tried to treat others as I would like to be treated. I want them to think I gave back, more than what was given to me to help make changes, so they don’t have to go through some of the hardships I went through throughout my life,” she said. “I’m trying to do the mission, so I can gather people to keep with my different missions. I can’t do it alone.”