You probably know that Edie Falco never studied medicine, although she plays Nurse Jackie in a show by the same name. And, the entire cast of Gray’s Anatomy includes actors and actresses who never entered college classes for medicine, although they play roles as members of a hospital staff. But, over the decades, many doctors have become famous for their expertise, including Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the chief medical correspondent for the health and medical unit at CNN. Between these two extremes are many people who studied medicine who became celebrities in their own right, whether through their profession or through another talent.
The following list contains some very familiar names and names of those who are yet to make their mark on an international basis. Some individuals sing and others act. Some of the following individuals are comedians, and still others became famous through their great looks and personality. The following ten famous people whose careers began in medicine are listed alphabetically to show readers that we do not favor one celebrity over another.
- Abigail Titmuss: Mostly known as Abi, this former English nurse turned glamor model, television personality and actress became a staff nurse at London’s University College Hospital after her graduation from City University in St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in 1998. She met television presenter John Leslie at a party that same year, which led to a well-publicized sex and drug relationship. Found innocent of any implications in the scandals, Titmuss gained enough coverage to become noticed by the public and by producers. Although she is recognized by mainstream media, she seems to prefer sexual roles just shy of pornography.
- Alberta Hunter: Alberta was somewhat mixed about her career, as she began in singing, but later studied as a practical nurse. Then, unbeknown to her nursing colleagues, she was coaxed into making two recordings with Lovie Austin in 1961 and Jimmy Archey in 1962. After she retired from nursing, her return to singing led to greater fame than she ever experienced during her earlier career. She continued to perform until a few months before her death in 1984.
- Bonnie Hunt: Born in Chicago, Illinois, to a large family, Hunt worked as an oncology nurse in 1982. However, life must have been far too funny for words, as two years later she co-founded “An Impulsive Thing” improvisational comedy troupe and also began to perform as a member of Chicago’s world-famous The Second City in 1986. Her talent landed several offers (such as Saturday Night Live), which she refused; but, she also built friendships with people such as David Letterman, who helped her to create a short-lived sitcom, The Building. Hunt has built a solid career, starring opposite such stars as Robin Williams in Jumanji and Steve Martin in Cheaper by the Dozen and its sequel.
- Emer McGilloway: Former neurologist turned opera singer, McGilloway shuttles between four or five countries singing with Opera North. Emer was born and raised in Derry in Northern Ireland, and both parents are head teachers and teach arts subjects. There were no doctors or professional musicians in her family, but her family was “musically aware” and everyone played an instrument. She is shown here in her recent role as Lady Essex in Elizabeth and Essex.
- Naomi Judd: Born Diana Ellen Judd, this singer was born to a gas station owner and a mother who began as a homemaker but later became a riverboat cook. After the birth of her own daughter, Christina Ciminella (later Wynonna Judd), at age eighteen, Naomi attended nursing school. She later worked as an emergency room nurse to support two daughters. Naomi then formed the highly successful singing duo known as the Judds with her first daughter in the 1980s. After being treated for Hepatitis C., Naomi has since moved on to acting and to raising awareness for her disease.
- Phil McGraw: McGraw is best known as “Dr. Phil,” talk show host, television personality and psychologist. Becoming a psychologist was a lifelong dream for McGraw, and he gained that degree through football scholarships and through owning a construction business with his brother-in-law. His dissertation focused on psychological aspects of rheumatoid arthritis. After he obtained his degree, he joined lawyer Gary Dobbs in co-founding Courtroom Sciences, Inc. (CSI), which is how he met Oprah Winfrey. From there, it is history, as McGraw writes his own celebrity history – literally – through books, shows and celebrity interventions among other publicity moves.
- Reynaldo “CJ” Concepcion: This is a famous person in the making, as Concepcion won one gold medal and four silvers at the 12th Annual World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA) in Los Angeles, California for his vocals. Concepcion, 27, beat hundreds of talents from 40 countries in a week-long competition considered to be the official “World Talent Championships” and “Hollywood Olympics” for aspiring performers and entertainers. When he’s not on a career path to singing fame, Concepcion works as a nurse.
- Robert Jarvik: Dr. Jarvik is a well known scientist, researcher and entrepreneur who obtained his fame with his role in developing the Jarvik-7 artificial heart. But, his true fame began with his career in television commercials for Pfizer Pharmaceutical’s cholesterol medication, Lupitor. Under the pressure of Congressional investigation into whether his television advertisements constitute medical advice given without a license to practice medicine, Pfizer withdrew its ads starring Dr. Jarvik in February 2008.
- Tera Patrick: Born to a Thai mother and a father who was an American Army doctor of English and Dutch descent, Tera’s great looks landed her a career first with the Ford Agency as a model. At age eighteen, she quit modeling and returned to school to obtain a degree in microbiology. She then worked as a nurse, but drifted into nude modeling for men’s magazines. In 1999, she began a career as a pornography star and rose quickly to the top of the charts. She now owns her own production company, Teravision, Inc., and plans to produce her own porn films.
- Thomas Noguchi: This man’s career as chief medical examiner for Los Angeles County, California, earned him the nickname of “Coroner to the Stars.” He performed or oversaw autopsies on celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Natalie Wood and Robert F. Kennedy, making him a celebrity in his own right. Noguchi is widely considered as the model for Jack Klugman’s character in the television series, Qunicy, and Noguchi also has made appearances in various documentaries as himself.