Top Model Swaps Runway for A Doctors Badge in Public Hospital

Ana Claudia Michels pursues dream career in public health in Carapicuíba (SP)

Eliane Trindade
São Paulo

The tall, slim blond with green eyes walks with long strides through the corridors of the Carapicuíba general hospital emergency clinic in greater São Paulo.

She enters office number 2, where she examines, under the supervision of a resident and a doctor, patients like Caroline Sena, 36, who is suspected of having thrombosis in the right leg.

"It was an excellent treatment. She touched me and examined me correctly. Many doctors are scared to touch us," said the cook, who then went for an x-ray exam.

Caroline had no idea that the 6th-year intern from São Camilo medical School is one of the most successful models in the generation of top Brazilian models that included Gisele Bündchen.

When she learned this, she praised the doctor-in-training. "Wow, I did not know! But the doctor really looks like a model!"

Ana Claudia Michels was once a Victoria's Secret "Angel" and, as an international model, she worked alongside successful Brazilian models like Alessandra Ambrosio, Ana Beatriz Barros, Raquel Zimmermann.

"Gisele started a little earlier than the other girls and me, but in the same year," recalls Michels, who is from Joinville in Santa Catarina. She made her debut on the catwalks in 1995 at the age of 14, and at 1'84 "and 55 kg, she was similar to Kate Moss.

Ana Claudia Michels - Fotomontagem


After walking the top international catwalks in the early 2000s, Ana Cláudia returned to Brazil.

In 2008, she began to think about a plan B, and when she had a revelation on her psychologist's couch. "One day my therapist asked me, 'What about your dream of doing medicine?'  "

She argued with the therapist that at almost 30 years old, it would be too late, unfeasible. However, she decided to follow the psychoanalyst's advice to enroll in a short course.

Medicine was an ambitious goal. Six months later, when she took her first entrance exam, she was above the 500th place. She had to wait one year preparing to try to enter again.

She doubled her bet and spent the whole day in a test preparation class. After class, she would study with her colleagues.

"I only studied, but it was a delight. I still can not believe I was there." When she retook the test, she ranked 37th. There were 50 seats.

She describes the first day of school as "one of the most incredible days in her life." It was a bigger thrill than walking for fashion masters like Valentino or posing for international magazine covers.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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