Medical professions include a wide variety of roles, so it’s not a surprise to learn of many celebrities who are doctors or have otherwise worked in a healthcare field. From dental assistants to CNAs and registered nurses, some of our favorite stars have suffered through the same long shifts and experienced the joy of watching the work pay off in a big way to relieve a patient’s discomfort. In a list that gives a whole new meaning to the term “famous medical doctors,” take a look at our favorite stars who donned doctor lab coats and scrubs before heading to the big screen.
Tina Turner — One of the most celebrated women of rock ‘n’ roll, Tina Turner wouldn’t have gotten involved with music at all if she’d followed her initial aspirations. As a young woman in Nutbush, Tennessee, Turner worked as a CNA and dreamed of becoming a nurse one day.
Mayim Bailik — Today’s viewers know her as Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on the TV sitcom The Big Bang Theory, but a decade earlier, Bailik was a successful child star on a hit show called Blossom. These days, she doesn’t just play a famous medical doctor.
After Blossom ended, Bailik headed to UCLA, where she eventually received her PhD. The actress headed to college for a triple-degree in neuroscience, Jewish studies and Hebrew studies, culminating in a doctorate from the California school. Unfortunately, the life of a neurosurgeon is especially challenging for a single mom, so the starlet headed back into entertainment.
Paul Brandt — The Canadian cowboy may be making it big on the country charts, but he started out as a pediatric RN in the heart of Alberta. Brandt’s 1996 single, “My Heart Has a History,” made him a success overnight, and he’s gone on to be one of the most successful unsigned country artists in history. Through charity work, he remains involved in the care of terminally ill children.
Thomas Welch — The man responsible for Welch’s Grape Juice created the juice out of a labor of love. The dentists were staunchly prohibitionist. They used the profits from their practice to fuel the creation of a wine substitute suitable for Sunday sacraments.
Bonnie Hunt — Once an oncology nurse with an interest in comedy, Hunt was encouraged to pursue a professional acting career by her patients. In the 30 years since, she’s acted in movies with some of the top comedic stars of the day, and is an accomplished writer and director, as well. These days you can catch the star on her daytime talk show, The Bonnie Hunt Show.
Ken Jeong — Fans of Dr. Ken are surprised to learn the actor and comedian has a real medical license in California. In fact, he stayed employed at a small hospital throughout 2007 while appearing in popular shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm, Boston Legal and The Shield. It wasn’t until he landed his first movie role that he stepped away from the rigorous world of healthcare, though it remains central to his career.
Naomi Judd — World renown country music star — and mother of two daughters who are celebrities in their own right — Mama Judd was once a single mother working her way through nursing school. There’s no doubt that same determination helped catapult the Judds to fame as one of the most successful country groups in the country.
Graham Chapman — One of the founding members of Monty Python got his start in a doctor’s lab coat. The British comedian was studying at Cambridge when he stumbled onto the Footlights Club. There he met John Cleese, and the rest is history.
Lisa Kudrow — Known for her role as ditzy blond, Phoebe Buffay, in the blockbuster sitcom Friends, Kudrow is anything but dumb in real life. Before the launch of her acting career, Kudrow worked as medical researcher in psychobiology. Medicine runs in the family. Kudrow’s father is a physician in Los Angeles, where Kudrow eventually sparked her career. She’s gone on to star in, write and direct many popular shows and movies, but it’s good to know she had a medical degree from Vassar to fall back on.
Michael Crichton — The author of groundbreaking novels like Jurassic Park and The Andromeda Strain, Crichton was enrolled in Harvard Medical College when his first works were published. He graduated with an MD in 1969 and went on to enjoy a successful writing career. Medicine and biological studies are entrenched in each of his works, though he never obtained his physician’s license.