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Retired NFL Star Pursues Dreams of Becoming an Anesthesiologist

Nate Hughes entered the NFL as a wide receiver and a registered nurse after graduating with a nursing degree in 2008. After playing in the league for four years, Hughes went on to receive a master’s degree and most recently a doctor of medicine degree. He dreams of becoming an anesthesiologist by 2023.

Retired NFL Star Pursues Dreams of Becoming an Anesthesiologist
(Photo credit: Shutterstock)

Retired NFL player Nate Hughes recounted his journey from a professional athlete to a medical professional during an interview Tuesday with Because of Them We Can.

Hughes began his career in football as a walk-on with Florida’s Jacksonville Jaguars after graduating with a nursing degree in 2008. He entered the league as a wide receiver and a registered nurse.

While pursuing his passion on the football field, Hughes kept his medical dreams alive as well.

“In the NFL, we say the NFL stands for Not For Long. I used my off seasons not only for training, but volunteering and working as a nurse,” he said. “I continued to work as a nurse after retiring from the NFL.”

Hughes played with the Jaguars until 2011, when he joined the Detroit Lions. He retired from football in 2012 and headed to graduate school, where he received a master’s degree in 2015.

On Friday, he graduated with a medical degree from the University of Mississippi. Hughes shared how his football career helped finance his medical pursuits.

“I was able to save money to help fund school. Some people think all NFL players make millions, but that’s not the case. Most undrafted players sign for league minimum, which is still great money, just not the millions people think,” he said.

Sports and medicine may seem worlds apart, but to Hughes, they share several similarities. “These similarities include a competitive environment, long work hours, attention to details, lots of studying, and pushing your body beyond what you thought was imaginable,” he added.

Hughes is slated to begin an anesthesia residency in July and expects to complete his dream of becoming an anesthesiologist by 2023.

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