Athletes becoming doctors: Who has made the transition?

Although star athletes have become famous for their success in two sports, for success in business during or post-career, or, most commonly, for a blossoming media career after the conclusion of their playing days, one transition not often talked about is athletes pursuing the field of medicine after their time on the field ended.

Below is a select list of athletes that have excelled in the medical industry following, or even during, an elite athletic career.

  • Olympic gymnast Lise Leveille completed medical school at UBC in Vancouver. In 2014, she started a fellowship in pediatric orthopaedic surgery at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas.
  • Olympic swimmer Kevin Draxinger became a doctor after he retired from swimming.
  • Pat Turner won a gold medal for rowing in the 1984 Summer Olympics. He later went on to graduate from the University of B.C. Faculty of Medicine.
  • Pat McGeer competed on the Canadian basketball team in the 1948 Summer Olympics. He is currently regarded as a leading authority on the causes and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Olympic swimmer Turlough O’Hare went on to become a doctor working in anesthesia research at McMaster University.
  • Simon Hoogewerf competed in the 1988 Summer Olympics. He graduated with a degree in medicine two years earlier.
  • Gold medal-winning kayaker Hugh Fisher is a medical doctor at Northlands Medical Clinic in British Columbia.
  • Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is a current offensive lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs and graduated from McGill University Faculty of Medicine in 2018.
  • Between his graduation from the University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine and his last year of residency, Randy Gregg represented Canada in ice hockey at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics.
  • For Myron Rolle, former safety for the Tennessee Titans, concerns about concussions in the NFL inspired him to pursue a neurosurgery residency at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital.


And it’s not just athletes-turned-doctors that are making a difference. As COVID-19 introduces uncertainty through unprecedented means, athletes around the world are chipping in to support their communities and those around them:

  • NBA rookie superstar, Zion Williamson, is covering the salaries of Smoothie King Center Staff, where his New Orleans Pelicans play their home games.
  • Kevin Love has donated $100,000 for the staff of his Cleveland Cavaliers’ Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
  • NFL star JJ Watt and his wife, Kealia Ohai (Chicago Red Stars) donated $350,000 to Houston Food Bank.
  • Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks and his partner Ciara donated one million meals in the city of Seattle.
  • NFL player Drew Brees is donating $5 million to the state of Louisiana
  • Olympian Maia Shibutani started a GoFundMe to get health care workers the personal protective equipment they need.
  • Professional tennis player Rafael Nadal is calling on fellow Spanish athletes to raise $20 million.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo is continuing to spearhead the fight against the coronavirus pandemic by teaming up with his agent to finance hospitals in Portugal.


Click here to read why athletes excel in the medical profession.

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