LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- From professional pianist to physician, one Las Vegas man is pivoting his career in a new direction.
Robert Sottile is proving it’s never too late to pursue a new passion.
At 45, he told why he decided to go back to school to study one of the toughest professions.
For more than a decade, Sottile made a living making music. He loved to play the piano in high school, studied it in college, then performed in some of the top concert halls around the world.
But then, “I started having trouble with my hands. Carpal tunnel, it’s very common for musicians to have hand trouble,” he said.
To protect his hands from more injuries, Sottile stepped away from the stage.
“I had to find something else to do, so I ended up working in restaurants, I ran kitchens, I did all sorts of crazy things,” he said.
On a whim, he applied at Lowe’s. That turned into a career spanning a decade. FOX5 interviewed Sottile back in December of 2014. He was the store manager at the Henderson location.
Fast forward a few years, Sottile was making a six-figure salary and was just about to get a big promotion.
“I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t excited, this was what I had been waiting for,” Sottile said. “As it turned out, I was doing the wrong thing.”
Mid-life crisis or missed opportunity, Sottile wasn’t sure until he turned on the television.
“Oddly enough, I was watching a medical show on television and realized I was jealous of the TV doctors,” he said. “I was jealous of what they were doing. I’m guessing along with the diagnosis. Why am I not doing this? So at first, I just turned 40, I thought this is insane. There’s no way this is going to work.”
Sottile thought it was uncommon, but not impossible. He enrolled back into college, knocked out his basic science courses and took the MCAT.
“Once I started doing it, I fit,” he said. “I knew I had found what I really – I don’t know if there’s such a thing as should’ve been doing – but I found what I really wanted to be doing.”
His hard work paid off. He was accepted into UNLV’s School of Medicine, class of 2023.
“I’m going to be 49 when I graduate,” he said.
Now in his mid-40s, Sottile is surrounded by classmates nearly half his age. The average age of a medical students in 24 years old.
“It’s not a big deal,” he said. “It’s more important for me to do what I love, to serve people and do the right thing, than it is for me to worry about when am I going to retire.”
And he’s realistic about what type of doctor he can be.
“Not too many people are going to dig a 65-year-old beginner surgeon, so I had to be honest about what I could do,” he said.
Sottile has set his sights on internal medicine.
“What I hope is that someone sees the story, and says to themselves, I can do that,” he said. “I can do that too. Doesn’t have to be medicine, it can be anything. I’ve had a dream in my heart that I’ve always been afraid to case. But I want people to know that it’s okay to be afraid, but you can still do it.”
Now the only piano he plays is in the lobby of UNLV’s medical school. With this new chapter starting, Sottile is selling his grand piano. He said he’ll use the money to help pay his student loans.