At age 39, Kelly Riccio is following her dreams as a student at Temple/St. Luke’s School of Medicine. The average age of a U.S. medical student is around 24, but this wife and mother of three sees age as no issue as she pursues a bright new future.
The Temple/St. Luke’s School of Medicine at St. Luke’s University Hospital in Fountain Hill is the Lehigh Valley’s first and only four-year medical school, where the region’s brightest minds go to become doctors. By cultivating home-grown medical talent, such as Riccio, who has deep roots in the Greater Lehigh Valley, St. Luke’s is helping the region to secure its health and well-being amid a worsening doctor shortage nationally.
As a child, Riccio played her family’s physician, donning a white coat and “listening” to hearts at home with her plastic stethoscope. But when the resident of Gilbertsville in Montgomery County wasn’t acting out her fantasy, she was practicing her clarinet or piano or singing.
As an undergraduate, Riccio followed her quest of becoming a performing musician and music teacher. After earning her bachelor’s in music education and a master’s in conducting, she taught for twelve years, first in the Allentown and East Penn School Districts, then at Lehigh Valley Academy RCS, a Bethlehem-based public charter school.
But in the back of her mind was her vision of caring for the ill or injured as a St. Luke’s doctor, and in 2019, instead of pursuing a doctorate in conducting, she opted to begin working towards obtaining a Doctor of Medicine degree. Fast forward to 2023. Riccio finds the training stimulating and demanding, if not a bit daunting being around her younger classmates – one of whom, Rana Moawad, age 22 and a second-year medical student, she taught as a high schooler at Lehigh Valley Academy!
“I loved teaching and performing music, and I’m sure I’ll love being a doctor,” said Ricco, who still plays the piano, mostly to de-stress and entertain her family.