From Scrubs to Red Carpets: Surprising Stars with Medical Degrees
Many celebrities with successful careers in entertainment, sports, music, writing and even politics have a surprising background in another field of expertise: medicine. From medical degrees to credentials in fields as diverse as nursing, psychology and neuroscience, these celebrities could switch back to scrubs and lab coats at any time — or already have.
Some of these stars even offered to use their skills to help those affected by COVID-19. It's admirable how they used both their fame and their knowledge to help others when it matters.
Ken Jeong, M.D. — Internal Medicine
Believe it or not, Ken Jeong's hilarious performances in the Hangover series, Community and more were prefaced by a career in internal medicine. That's right: The actor known for playing Mr. Chow in The Hangover is a licensed doctor in California.
Jenny Thompson, M.D. — Pediatric Anesthesiology
While her main claim to fame is her incredible 12 Olympic medals, Jenny Thompson also completed training as an anesthesiologist, one of the most essential (and difficult) jobs in any hospital.
Mayim Bialik, Ph.D. — Neuroscience
Mayim Bialik played a genius on The Big Bang Theory, the longest-running sitcom ever. Her role wasn't entirely removed from reality, either: Bialik is not only a skilled actress. but also trained in neuroscience with a Ph.D. from UCLA.
Tina Turner — Nurse's Aid
It's nearly impossible to imagine the legendary Tina Turner pursuing a career outside of music! However, before her musical breakout, Turner was on her way to becoming a nurse. After graduating high school, she even scored a job as a nurse's aid at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.
Kate Gosselin, R.N. — Labor and Delivery Nurse
Kate Gosselin's income didn't always come from reality television. Before she was broadcasting her quirky family to the world in Jon & Kate Plus 8, Gosselin spent much of her young adult life working as a nurse. As a healthcare worker, her focus was on labor and delivery.
Bonnie Hunt, R.N. — Oncology Nurse
Bonnie Hunt is known for over 40 film and television appearances, yet before she was an actor, she was a nurse. Although she had her sights on Hollywood from a young age, her father insisted that she seek out a stable career in medicine.
Adrian Holmes, R.N. — Spinal Nurse
Adrian Holmes is a friendly face on Smallville and Arrow, yet he also used to bring smiles to spinal patients as a nurse. Holmes' mother is the one who encouraged him to pursue nursing as a practical fallback career in case his acting pursuits came up short.
Lisa Kudrow — Psychobiology Student
While Friends wouldn't be the same without Lisa Kudrow in the role of Phoebe, acting wasn't always in the cards for her. Coming from a medicine-focused family, Kudrow went to college to study psychobiology. She hoped to join her neurologist father, Lee Kudrow, in his medical research.
Julie Walters, R.N. — Coronary and Ophthalmic Nurse
Julie Walters is best known for her motherly role as Mrs. Weasley in the Harry Potter series. Still, the films aren't the only place where her caretaking abilities shine. Before she became an award-winning actress, Walters pursued a life in nursing, earning her qualifications at Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Adrienne Bailon — Studied Medicine at the High School for Health Professions
Adrienne Bailon has had a remarkable career in entertainment. The singer has performed with groups such as The Cheeta Girls, hosted a talk show, and appeared in multiple films. Still, when she was a kid, she had a different dream: going into medicine.
Kim Zolciak, LPN — Nurse
Kim Zolciak, one of the better-known stars of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, has spent years establishing herself a public figure, entertainer and beauty guru. However, before her glamorous days as a celebrity housewife, Zolciak earned her living working as a licensed nurse.
Dexter Holland, Ph.D. — Molecular Medicine
In addition to being a core member of The Offspring, one of the most popular pop-punk bands of the mid-1980s, Bryan Keith "Dexter" Holland also has a background in molecular biology. He earned bachelor’s and master's degrees in the fields of biology and molecular biology even as The Offspring found success.
Jenny McCarthy — Studied Nursing at Southern Illinois University
Before her runway and high-fashion days, Jenny McCarthy dreamed of becoming a registered nurse. While she never actually made it into the medical field, McCarthy was dedicated to joining it in her college days.
Jennifer Stone, R.N. - Registered Nurse
After a successful run on Wizards of Waverly Place, one of Disney's most popular shows, Jennifer Stone (Harper Winkle) stepped into medicine. After studying as a nurse, she entered a registered nurse (R.N) residency program.
Robin Quivers, ANC — United States Air Force Nurse
The Howard Stern Show wouldn't be complete without Robin Quivers, Stern's witty on-air partner. While she seems to be a natural radio personality, Quivers was once a nurse for the United States Air Force. This career route wasn’t entirely intentional; the recruiter got her on the phone and wouldn't take no for an answer.
David Lee Roth, Emergency Medical Technician
David Lee Roth, the iconic frontman of Van Halen, went in the opposite direction of most of the people on this list by going from musician to medic. He toned down his punk personality to train and work as an emergency medical technician (EMT) in New York in the early 2000s..
Michael Crichton, M.D. — Harvard Medical School Graduate
From Jurassic Park to ER, Michael Crichton's contributions to pop culture were substantial. Prior to his successful career as a director, writer and producer, however, Crichton had his sights set on becoming a doctor. He graduated from Harvard Medical School and worked as a postdoctoral fellow for several years.
Jay Sean — Studied Medicine at the University of London
R&B star Jay Sean is one of the best-selling British artists of all-time. However, had he not dropped out of school to pursue his music career, he may have become a stand-out in the medical industry instead.
Pau Gasol — Studied Medicine at University of Barcelona
Pau Gasol of the Chicago Bulls almost avoided pursuing a basketball career to find a cure for one of his idols, Magic Johnson, when he announced that he was HIV positive. He was eleven-years-old at the time when he decided to set aside basketball to become a doctor and help his hero.
Graham Chapman — Studied Medicine at St. Bartholomew's Hospital Medical School
Graham Chapman, beloved star of Monty Python, had medical aspirations before he was a star. He studied medicine at Cambridge and St. Bartholomew's Hospital Medical School, yet he wasn't inspired by the work.
George Miller, M.D. — Physician
While George Miller may not shine in front of the camera, he has altered the world of film—and medicine—throughout his multiple careers. Before he created the Mad Max series of critically acclaimed action movies, Miller worked as a physician.
Naomi Judd, R.N. — ICU Nurse
Naomi Judd is half of one of the most famous country duo in music history, the Judds. (Her daughter, Wynnona Judd is the other half). However, before that, she worked as a nurse..
Luann de Lesseps, LPN — Nurse
This Real Housewives of New York star is an established actress, model author, and television personality—and you can add nursing to her list! Luann de Lesseps, who began to go by the title "countess" after marrying French royalty in the 1990s, was a nurse long before she was an entertainer.
Emeli Sande, DUniv — Studied Neuroscience
Emeli Sande is one of the most successful songwriters of the last decade. She has written hits for the likes of Rhianna, Alicia Keys, Labrinth, Leona Lewis and more. Still, Sande knew that the music industry was tough to succeed in. She wanted to ensure that she covered her financial bases in college by pursuing a medical degree.
Khaled Hosseini, M.D. — Internal Medicine
Author Khaled Hosseini is an acclaimed author famed for novels like The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns as well as movie adaptations of his work. Between moving from Kabul, Afghanistan to Paris to San Jose, California and later becoming a famous author, you’d think he wouldn’t have had time for a medical career. You’d also be wrong.
Tanya Sam, R.N. — Oncology and Hematology Nurse
While Tanya Sam's charismatic personality shines on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, her abundant energy used to bring joy to hospital patients. Before she became a housewife, businesswoman and fashion guru, Tanya was a registered nurse.
Paul Brandt, R.N. — Pediatric Nurse
This internationally successful Canadian musician is a chart-topping country star. Still, his golden voice hasn't always carried his career. Prior to blowing away opponents in talent competitions and signing on with Reprise Records, Brandt enjoyed a humble career as a pediatric nurse.
Kathryn Joosten, PMHN — Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse
With shows like The West Wing and Desperate Housewives under her belt and multiple Emmys to her name, Kathryn Joosten has had a fruitful career in the entertainment industry. Before that, however, she worked as a psychiatric mental health nurse (PMHN).
Sonya Eddy, LVN — Licensed Vocational Nurse
Actress Sonya Eddy regularly appeared on General Hospital as nurse Epiphany Johnson. As it turns out, her nursing role was more than just a character; it extended into her everyday life.
Ernesto 'Che' Guevara, M.D. —Physician
While Ernesto 'Che' Guevara may be best known today for appearing on college students’ T-shirts, he was first and foremost a Latin American revolutionary who helped bring Fidel Castro to power in Cuba. Before he rode a motorcycle across South America and rebelled against the bourgeoisie, however, he worked as a doctor.