8 orthopedic surgeons who are famous outside of orthopedics

Laura Dyrda -  

Here are eight orthopedic surgeons who were famous before they became orthopedic surgeons, or developed their passions concurrently while pursuing medical school.

Scott Powell, MD, is an orthopedic surgeon in Burbank, Calif., and a former member of rock and roll band Sha Na Na. Before attending medical school he was a founding member of the group and performed with Sha Na Na at the Woodstock Festival. He also traveled the world with the band and was featured in the movies Grease and Caddyshack. He later attended Albert Einstein College of Medicine and completed a fellowship in sports medicine at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic in Los Angeles. In 2005, Dr. Powell co-founded Stetson Powell Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. He has been chairman of the fellowship committee for the Arthroscopy Association of North America and is active in leadership positions for the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine.


Mark Adickes, MD, is co-medical director of the Ironman Sports Medicine Institute at Memorial Hermann in Houston. However, he didn't begin training as a physician until after he was 31 years old and had a career in the National Football League behind him. Dr. Adickes was an offensive lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Redskins. His last season with the Redskins, 1984, the team won the Super Bowl. After retiring from the NFL, Dr. Adickes was accepted into Harvard Medical School and later completed a fellowship at The Steadman Clinic. In addition to his clinical work, he also has appeared on Fox Sports Net.


Eric Heiden, MD, won more single Olympic medals than any previous Olympic athlete — 15 medals — as a speed skater before becoming an orthopedic surgeon. He won five speed skating events at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympic Winter Games and set four Olympic and one World Record at the games. But he didn't jump into medicine right after his Olympic career was over; Dr. Heiden instead turned to cycling and won the United States Cycling Championship and competed with the 7-11 Team in the 1986 Tour de France. Dr. Heiden earned his medical degree from Stanford University in 1991 and now considers sports medicine his life's work. He is co-founder of the U.C. Davis Sports Performance Program and has served on the medical staff for the United States Speed Skating Team, USA Cycling and Sacramento Kings.


Dot Richardson, MD, was an Olympian before she became an orthopedic surgeon. She competed as a softball player for the United States National Team during the 1996 Olympic Games, where she hit the home run to win a gold medal during the championship game. She received the 1998 Sports Legends Award and 1997 Zaharias Award for Female Athlete of the Year. She was also the Amateur Athletic Foundation Athlete of the Year and named the Women's Major Fast Pitch National Championship MVP four times. Dr. Richardson began pursuing her medical career in 1993 and then took a year off from training for the Olympics before undergoing a sports medicine fellowship at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic.


Alec Kessler, MD, was a professional basketball player for the Miami Heat for four seasons before becoming an orthopedic surgeon. He was a first-round draft pick out of Georgia which won the SEC basketball title his senior year on the team. He earned his medical degree at Emory School of Medicine in Atlanta and practiced in Pensacola until his death. The Andrews Institute established a scholarship and mentorship program in Dr. Kessler's name to help high school athletes in Escambia and Santa Rosa County overcome social and personal challenges to achieve success.


Jason Smith, MD, is a sports orthopedic surgeon at False Creek Healthcare. He played division 1 NCAA hockey and was drafted into the NHL by the Calgary Flames. After retiring from hockey for increased risk of cerebral concussions, he attended the University of Calgary Medical School and completed his residency in orthopedics at McGill University in Montreal. His additional training incldudes a sports medicine fellowship under James Andrews, MD. He is the team physician for the Toronto Blue Jays and chief of orthopedics at Rouge Valley Centenary Hospital.


Patrick J. Barry, MD, was a child actor during World War II appearing in several Broadway plays before turning to medicine. Dr. Barry didn't discover his passion for medicine until he was serving in the army. He completed his orthopedic residency and began his practice in Florida. But when disaster struck Nicaragua, he flew with a few of medical students to lend a hand. That began several trips to South America to treat patients over the years, and he has earned the Roberto Clemente Humanitarian Award for his work. But his career didn't end with orthopedic trauma patients; Dr. Barry also performed orthopedic surgeries for several animal species.


Mercedes von Deck, MD, is an orthopedic surgeon who spends her time between the operating room and competitive dance floor. She is a general orthopedic surgeon at CHA Cambridge (Mass.) Hospital Campus where she treats a variety of conditions and performs joint replacement and arthroscopic surgery. She delayed her entrance into medical school for one year to pursue dance, but then took another four years off after her second year of medical school to pursue professional ballroom dancing. Her two professions developed concurrently and she has danced around the world.


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