8 Grads Who Changed Careers and Became Doctors

While plenty of physicians have dreamed of being a doctor since childhood, many take a little longer to decide that medicine is their calling. Here, several AUC graduates reflect on their own unconventional paths to medical school and their career journeys since graduation.

Football Player / Actor / Surgeon

Before his acceptance to AUC, Steven Brooks, MD ‘05 was a professional football player with several NFL teams including: The L.A. /St. Louis Rams, the San Francisco 49ers, the New Orleans Saints, the Detroit Lions and the Washington Redskins. In the off season, Dr. Brooks – an imposing figure at 6’5” and 265 pounds – was also a model and actor, appearing on several well-known shows such as Beverly Hills 90210 and HBO’s Arliss.

Today, Dr. Brooks is assistant professor of surgery and the Trauma Medical Director at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine. In 2010, he received the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Resident Award for Exemplary Teaching. While the ACS has met annually for the past 96 years, Dr. Brooks was only the eighth recipient of this award and the first AUC student to receive the honor. Read more >

Boutique Owner / Internal Medicine Resident

Heather Christopherson, MD ’17 always had deep respect for the medical profession, but she didn’t necessarily see herself in that white coat. “I never really considered myself as someone who could go to medical school,” said the Phoenix, AZ native. “Women in my family tend to be entrepreneurs or stay-at-home moms. We work really hard, but no one ever went onto graduate school.”

Turns out, she could—and did—go to medical school, after all. After several years running a successful boutique in Scottsdale, AZ, Dr. Christopherson found herself questioning her career path. “I had an inner voice saying, ‘Is this really what you want to do for the rest of your life?’” said Dr. Christopherson. “I thought, there has to be something that I could do and be really proud of, and that would also fulfill my interests.”

That something turned out to be internal medicine. She matched into her first-choice residency at University of Texas-Houston last year, and hopes to pursue a fellowship in gastroenterology after completing residency. Read more >

Chiropractor / Anesthesiology Resident

Aaron Chopee was once on the path to becoming a chiropractor, studying at a college not far from his hometown of Oshawa, Ontario. Today, he is poised to graduate with a medical degree from AUC and has earned a residency position in anesthesiology at University of Toledo.  

“I was drawn to my medical courses with much more interest than chiropractic, and I soon realized that my passion did not lie in the field I was pursuing,” he said. “I needed a greater challenge, and AUC immediately stood out to me. The smaller class sizes, and the exciting opportunity to live in Sint Maarten and take advantage of extracurricular activities while studying medicine appealed to me.”

Dr. Chopee credits AUC for providing the foundation for a career in medicine, saying “I was given all the resources needed to fully prepare for USMLE exams, clinicals and residency. My time at AUC was incredible.” Read more >

Catalog Designer / Surgery Resident

Ashley Jordan, MD ’15, of Norwell, Massachusetts, came to AUC with a fervent desire to make a difference. She discovered that medicine was her mission while caring for her mother who underwent surgery for breast and lung cancer. Dr. Jordan was enjoying her job as a women’s clothing catalog designer at the time, but her experience helping her mother caused her to reevaluate her career choice. “I knew that returning to life as a full-time student would be difficult,” she says, “But, venturing into the field of medicine was something I simply had to do.”

Dr. Jordan attended an AUC open house in Boston and applied for admission. She was not only accepted, but was also awarded a scholarship for her outstanding undergraduate academic achievement. This vote of confidence, she says, affirmed her belief that “everything happens for a reason. I knew that attending AUC was the next step in my journey towards becoming a physician.”

Fast forward a few years and Dr. Jordan now has a MD degree and is completing a General Surgery residency at St. Luke’s-Bethlehem-PA. Read more >

Pharmaceutical Salesman / Family Physician

As a pharmaceutical salesman, Michael McGlue had worked in the health care industry for several years and held a Master of Health Administration. But something was missing in his health care career—namely, the “care” part. Although he worked with hospitals in the Denver area every day, he felt disconnected from the patients within their walls.

Meanwhile, he was moonlighting as an EMT and firefighter in the rural town of Divide, Colorado, about two hours south of Denver. Here, McGlue had an immediate, undeniable impact on people’s lives. His sales job seemed increasingly bleak by comparison. And it wasn’t long before he decided to hang up his suit in exchange for a pair of scrubs—permanently.

Today, he’s now Dr. McGlue, proud 2014 graduate of AUC, and a PGY-3 family medicine resident at the University of Wyoming.

“I love AUC,” says Dr. McGlue. “Going to AUC gave me the foundation to succeed, and it gave me the opportunity to do what I wanted to do with my life.” Read more >

First Lieutenant / Engineer / Hospitalist

Patient care, says Zubair Siddiqui, MD ‘13, is all about problem-solving. And he should know, too: As a veteran of the United States Air Force, an engineer by trade, and now a physician, he’s trained to solve problems of all shapes and sizes. After graduating from Georgia Tech with an electrical engineering degree, he spent almost a year as a contractor for Dell Computers before joining the Air Force. There, he served as an officer and worked in developmental engineering, program management and systems safety management, before deciding to pursue medicine.

“I always had a deep desire to be in a field that’s not only challenging, but allows me to make a difference in people’s lives,” said Dr. Siddiqui, now a hospitalist and family medicine physician in Irving, TX. “I enjoyed my experience in the Air Force, but I was looking for a new career.” Read more >

Banker / Surgery Resident

When Shridevi Singh, MD ‘16 decided to pursue medicine, she knew the journey would be difficult but she couldn’t imagine just how tough. Now, this single mother and AUC graduate is a surgery resident in her hometown of New York.

Self-described as “the non-traditional student of non-traditional students,” Dr. Singh pursued medicine later in life, after a 4-year career in banking. She started as a bank teller, was promoted to personal banker, and decided to set her sights on investment banking—a path that required a finance degree. So, she enrolled in college and starting fulfilling various science electives.

“I fell in love,” Dr. Singh says. “I decided right there and then that if I was going to pursue any field it had to be medicine.” Read more >

Paramedic / Emergency Medicine Chief Resident

Aaron Tiffee, MD ’12 always planned to go to medical school, but his plans got derailed during undergrad and he left before graduation to move home. Back in Monterey, Louisiana, he became a paramedic, owned a bike and kayak shop, got married and had a family. But medical school was always lurking in the back of his mind.

One day, he made the decision that he was going to make a medical career happen. At 28 years old, he restarted his undergrad at Louisiana State University (LSU) and five years later, he earned his bachelor’s degree. After two rounds of applications to LSU didn’t work out, he applied to AUC and was accepted for the May semester class. At 34 years old, he packed up his family, house, horses and set out for Sint Maarten.

Now, Dr. Tiffee is back in Louisiana as an attending emergency medicine physician at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center in Lafayette. Previously, he served as Chief Resident at LSU’s emergency medicine program in Baton Rouge. Read more >