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Hot Lights, Cold Steel: Life, Death and…

Hot Lights, Cold Steel: Life, Death and Sleepless Nights in a Surgeon's…

by Michael J. Collins

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In Hot Lights, Cold Steel, Dr. Michael Collins recounts his four years of medical residency as an orthopedic resident at the world renowned Mayo Clinic. In addition to stories about cases during his residency, Collins also interjects snippets of his life with his wife and ever growing family as well as his stints of moonlighting in a rural hospital 90 miles away.

Collins’ memoir is an interesting glimpse into the life of medical residents, an area of medicine that I think doesn’t get a lot of attention. Residents are in between medical students and practicing physicians. They know a lot of textbook knowledge, but have yet to apply it in the field. Collins’ does a good job of showing the reader how terrifying and yet exhilarating the process is of becoming a real surgeon.

Collins’ memoir is full of stories that are both humorous and heart breaking. For every silly drunk he encounters, there is the sad story of an 18 year old beautiful cancer patient. Collins’ uses these stories to also contemplate on the futility of many of the things that doctor’s do. In the end, we all go to the same place. Yet Collins’ fights the good fight because he knows nothing else. He can’t stop trying to fix things, no matter what the eventual outcome.

Hot Lights, Cold Steel is overall a solid memoir of medical residency. Some of the language is complex and may lose readers who don’t want to look up specific knee muscles. Regardless, I would still recommend the title to anyone who has an interest in personal medical stories. ( )
1 vote greeneyed_ives | Oct 13, 2013 |
Michael Collins' memoir of his years as a resident at the Mayo Clinic is heartbreaking one minute and hilarious the next. He is a credit to his Irish storytelling heritage. ( )
  lindap69 | Apr 5, 2013 |
Hot Lights, Cold Steel is, in a way, like many other books I’ve read before. It’s a medical memoir, a genre I have an interest in. Yet it manages to set itself apart through Collins’ sensitive and insightful prose about not only his training, but, really, about the entirety of his life through the four years of his residency. Collins has written a book enjoyable for many reasons, a feat not often achieved by a book typically focused on one, partitioned part of the author’s life.

Full review: http://libwen.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/hot-lights-cold-steel-by-michael-j-collin... ( )
1 vote juliayoung | Apr 21, 2011 |
This is the story of Michael Collins' orthopedic residency at Mayo Clinic. A really interesting read. ( )
  Suzieqkc | Sep 16, 2010 |
This was a moderately interesting story of one man's experience as an orthopaedic surgery resident at the Mayo Clinic. While it ultimately is a very quick read, it does suggest that hard (perhaps even obsessive) work will result in success more often than not. It also suggests that even high flying surgeons are insecure about their own abilities. This latter point is not at all reassuring to anyone who has any cause to have a medical procedure in the near future. Overall, this started well and the narrative held my attention, but it ended too abruptly for my taste. ( )
  Meggo | Mar 11, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312352697, Paperback)

When Michael Collins decides to become a surgeon, he is totally unprepared for the chaotic life of a resident at a major hospital. A natural overachiever, Collins' success, in college and medical school led to a surgical residency at one of the most respected medical centers in the world, the famed Mayo Clinic. But compared to his fellow residents Collins feels inadequate and unprepared. All too soon, the euphoria of beginning his career as an orthopedic resident gives way to the feeling he is a counterfeit, an imposter who has infiltrated a society of brilliant surgeons.

This story of Collins' four-year surgical residency traces his rise from an eager but clueless first-year resident to accomplished Chief Resident in his final year. With unparalleled humor, he recounts the disparity between people's perceptions of a doctor's glamorous life and the real thing: a succession of run down cars that are towed to the junk yard, long weekends moonlighting at rural hospitals, a family that grows larger every year, and a laughable income.

Collins' good nature helps him over some of the rough spots but cannot spare him the harsh reality of a doctor's life. Every day he is confronted with decisions that will change people's lives-or end them-forever. A young boy's leg is mangled by a tractor: risk the boy's life to save his leg, or amputate immediately? A woman diagnosed with bone cancer injures her hip: go through a painful hip operation even though she has only months to live? Like a jolt to the system, he is faced with the reality of suffering and death as he struggles to reconcile his idealism and aspiration to heal with the recognition of his own limitations and imperfections.

Unflinching and deeply engaging, Hot Lights, Cold Steel is a humane and passionate reminder that doctors are people too. This is a gripping memoir, at times devastating, others triumphant, but always compulsively readable.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:13 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A Mayo Clinic orthopedist recounts his tumultuous four years as a surgical resident, describing dramatic cases during which he was forced to make life-changing decisions for his patients and moonlight at a local emergency room in order to earn extra money.… (more)

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