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Physician Howard Tucker: Still Seeing Patients at Age 101

Neurologist Howard Tucker has no plans to retire, plus he's a TikTok sensation

By Rosie Wolf Williams

Howard Tucker, a Renaissance man, holds the Guinness World Record as the world's oldest practicing physician. He uses his law degree as a consultant on medical cases, is the subject of a documentary in the making, and is a TikTok sensation.

A man holding a Guinness World Record certificate. Next Avenue
At 101 years old, Howard Tucker holds the Guinness World Record for being the oldest practicing doctor.

Tucker still sees patients at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio. He trained in his home state of Ohio, spent some of his career at the New York Institute of Neurology, and enlisted in the Navy during World War II. During the Korean War, he served as Chief of Neurology at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Philadelphia.

"I'm always effervescent every time I see a patient. I just feel glorious and grateful for the ability to have their confidence."

As a young man, Tucker played the violin and considered following music as a profession. But he learned more about medicine and realized that was his calling. "I knew that I wanted to help people," says Tucker. 

"I'm always effervescent every time I see a patient. I just feel glorious and grateful for the ability to have their confidence," he says. Tucker credits his Chief of Neurology at Cleveland Clinic as a role model and mentor. "He told me, 'You can learn more than I can teach you.'"

"He was chief and professor, and [the Clinic] thought he walked on water," says Tucker. "So I went to New York and realized the improvement in the quality of thinking."

Tucker was also interested in law, so he returned to school. He earned a law degree and passed the Ohio Bar Exam in his 60s. In addition to his work as a physician, he serves as an expert witness for medical-legal cases.

The Business of Doctoring

Tucker says that technology changed the face of medicine in many ways. He faced challenges with computers and learning to use imaging studies such as CAT scans and MRIs. But he continues to be impressed by how technology has allowed doctors to diagnose and treat more quickly. 

He relates a case about a patient with multiple sclerosis whose condition was exacerbated by trauma. "That was 40 years ago. At that time, I spent a week researching and finding six articles at the medical library," says Tucker. 


"About a year ago, I saw a patient with multiple sclerosis made worse by trauma. I turned on my computer. I had dozens of articles. Not only were there advances, but that accessibility was shocking." However, Tucker says, some aspects of technology have been detrimental to the relationship of the medical professional to the patient. 

"It can separate the doctor from the patient, and it is a different approach [to medicine] than before. But I am happy to continue practicing as I used to. I make contact with patients and get detailed histories, instead of just reading laboratory reports or looking at a screen."

Family Ties

Family is a big part of Tucker's life. Along with being grateful that he had a wonderful, supportive father, he points to his wife as a strong and important partner. Tucker's wife, Sara Tucker, will turn 90 this year and is a practicing psychiatrist and psychoanalyst.  

"She's not taking on any new patients, and as her patients 'graduate' and she feels they are secure in their psyche, she stops seeing them," says Tucker. "She has [a few] patients in some discussion groups with residents, and she continues to teach in psychoanalysis."

"Happiness is the key. Do not sit back and do nothing but watch television."

Tucker's grandson, Austin, catalyzed Tucker's TikTok success. "For my grandfather's 100th birthday, we began posting behind-the-scenes content and other fun footage on social media. Our TikTok page soon went viral and now has nearly 50 million views and 100,000 followers," says the younger Tucker. 

"It has been incredible to see the younger generation wanting to learn more about my grandfather's life experiences, and so much fun spending time with my grandfather to make these lighthearted videos."

What's Next For Dr. Tucker?

Working with a team of filmmakers, Austin Tucker has been working on a documentary titled "What's Next?" It chronicles the history and changes in medicine that his grandfather has witnessed during more than 75 years of service. 

"It will highlight the importance of investing in our older generations who are sometimes overlooked and undervalued," says Austin Tucker. "Although we have completed all of the filming, we are now wrapping up the edit and are in the home stretch so that we can submit the film to festivals – and so my grandfather can enjoy the movie."

Dr. Howard Tucker says that if he decides to continue his education, he will pursue a degree in computer science. And he insists that older adults can remain valuable assets to the community and society. "Retirement is the enemy of longevity," he says. 

"My advice to everyone would be to choose a profession or hobby that is exhilarating and mindfully and intellectually challenging. You have to love it, first. You have to feel that you have accomplished something. Happiness is the key. Do not sit back and do nothing but watch television."

To support the film, go to the Kickstarter link here. Updated: Dr. Tucker is no longer practicing at St. Vincent's Hospital but continues to consult and is involved with medical legal cases. He is currently seeking a position at a new hospital to continue teaching and communicating with patients.

Rosie Wolf Williams
Rosie Wolf Williams is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in USA Weekend, Woman's Day, AARP the Magazine and elsewhere. Read More
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