Read Hot Lights, Cold Steel: Life, Death and Sleepless Nights in a Surgeon's First Years by Michael J. Collins Online


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 inadequateWhen 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....

Title : Hot Lights, Cold Steel: Life, Death and Sleepless Nights in a Surgeon's First Years
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780312337780
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

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

  • Imran
    2019-05-13 19:21

    This was one of my favorite “doctor” books. Dr. Collins is an amazing author who brings truth and humor to his life as a resident. In stark contrast to “Intern Blues”, Dr. Collins isn’t caught whining; rather, he understands his job is tough, the hours long, and the decisions difficult with a sense of journey. That is, he engrosses himself in his life and enjoys the ride.You really can feel his emotions when he succeeds, fails, is uncertain. You grow in compassion and respect for his supportive wife. He really lets you in to his life. It has given me insight into what I have to look forward to as well.This book gives me, a medical student, hope and perspective. He shows an attitude I aspire to. “Doctors are whiners” some say. I agree with the statement but disagree with the sentiment. Regardless, here we see a physician in training who decides to give up what is in his full right.

  • Kimberly
    2019-05-09 13:08

    Fantastic account of a surgeons years in Residency. Learning the ins and outs, trying not to make mistakes, learning to accept them and move on if he does.This book was hilarious at times, the author is very funny. I even learned a thing or two about medical jargon.Highly Recommended!

  • Alina
    2019-04-28 18:10

    "I was a counterfeit, an impostor who had infiltrated this society of brilliant surgeons. [...] I would have thrown myself on the floor and asked them to shoot me and put me out of my misery." When I read these lines, I knew that this book was the real thing. There's something in Collins' self-deprecation and love of his work that reminds me of James Herriot, but the humour of "Hot Lights, Cold Steel" is starker, though no less funny. The laughter is there, of course, but it sounds more like a man joking at the stake than in front of a fireplace.I wonder if the author has finally gotten some sleep since he finished his residency - then there might be hope for the rest of us!

  • Mari
    2019-05-04 12:07

    Dr. Collins is kind of like the Augusten Bourroughs/David Sedaris of medical writing. Some of the stories are funny (the patient with a dildo stuck up his butt), others are heartbreaking (an 18 year old girl with cancer of the ilium). The book is the first medical writing I've read that is more than just clinical stories but also gives insight into what the life of a resident is like -- the long hours, the low pay, the lapses in confidence -- all the sacrafices that must be made for training to be completed. It shows the passion necessary for pursuing medicine in this country. Overall, very informative, easy to read, and thought-provoking.

  • Kathy
    2019-05-20 13:34

    Dr. Collins could easily launch a second career as an author. This book is the story of his four years as an orthopedic resident at the Mayo Clinic--the final four years before he was officially labled "MD." At the same time, he and his wife were having their first four children! (They topped out at twelve, according to his biography on the book jacket.) The book left me wishing he would write a book covering the rest of his life and career since then. This book made me laugh out loud, cry, and cringe (at some of the medical procedures.) I enjoyed it tremendously as he deftly wove together the strands of his career with his personal life.

  • Jenn
    2019-05-09 14:08

    Found this while I was browsing a library that had a display of medical-themed books. I had to laugh when I realized I'd read almost half of them. I have a thing for this kind of book. Of the dozen or so books like this that I've read, Atul Gawande's 4 books definitely rank near the top. I like his writing so much, I actually approached this book with serious skepticism - no way I can like any other book as much as Gawande's right? But Michael Collins did not disappoint. This book isn't nearly as emotionally gripping as, say, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Gawande, but it is just so fun to read. The accounts of tricky surgeries and tough decisions is balanced by pretty hilarious anecdotes of his residency buddies and his saintly wife. Also have to mention how impressed I am with this guy's work ethic. He worked 3 jobs in medical school to make ends meet. And during residency, he moonlighted at a rural hospital every other weekend for 36 hours straight. Definitely not ideal circumstances here and I actually feel a little uneasy about doctors working such long hours without sleep, BUT what an impressive guy to actually provide for himself without going into debt (well maybe he went into debt for tuition, but apparently not for living expenses). Maybe I'm getting old, but it seems like students are getting lazier these days and so many - medical students and university students in general - just rack up debt without caution. Call me crazy, but when we were students, we LIVED like students - crappy apartment, secondhand clothes, hand-me-down furniture and all. And we worked for all of book to read and it goes really quickly. Definitely recommend this.

  • Ellie
    2019-05-11 13:17

    I thought it was really cool when I read the description of Collins on the back flap and saw that he has 12 children. He’s Irish Catholic, I guess, but he doesn’t come across as the least bit religious in the book. I think he and his wife don’t have so many children for religious reasons so much as because they just love having children. In any case, this description of the four years of orthopedic surgery residency at the Mayo Clinic is awesome. It’s very engrossing, with lots of medical details and patient stories. The insights Dr. Collins has about human life and mortality are interesting, but not the best part of the book. He’s very good at describing scenes and engaging the reader in what’s happening. One thing I could never get over was how after treating so many people for injuries sustained from accidents while driving drunk, even a few people who are mentioned as not having blood alcohol levels above the legal limit but still being impaired, Dr. Collins and his fellow residents continue to go out and drink and then drive home. Overall this is a really excellent book. I read it all in one night – couldn’t put it down.

  • Katie
    2019-05-15 14:16

    In my continuing obsession with medical student/doctor memoirs (begun last spring with Atul Gawande's wonderful books) comes this memoir about a doctor who used to be a construction worker. Collins only started medical school in his mid-twenties, and this book is primarily a story about his four years of residency as an aspiring orthopedic surgeon at the Mayo Clinic.This book was different from Gawandes' (and probably most other medically-themed memoirs) primarily in its tone, because Collins is rarely serious. In fact, I laughed out loud more than once during this book--he has a lot of funny stories revolving around both his family and his fellow medical personnel, and of course, the neverending stream of patients. He turns serious at times, but mostly this was just a really engaging memoir about how unbelievably hard doctors have to work, both to become doctors in the first place, especially during their residencies, and then well, basically for the rest of their careers. Collins actually worked about 100 hours a week as a resident and ALSO had to moonlight at a hospital, because you don't make very much money as a resident. He worked constantly and never slept more than a couple hours. I don't know how they do it.

  • Carmen
    2019-05-01 16:28

    This is a book about a resdient at the Mayo Clinic in Orthopedics. It's about his struggles and his own doubts about why he was picked to get a residency in one of the top programs in the nation! So far, this book is proving incredibly interesting - although I must admit his residency experience appears to have been a LOT more demanding than mine!Despite the sleepless nights and such - there is something to be said for the insanity and friendships that bloom in such a time! Some of my best friends are those that I made during my residency!!! I will admit that I viewed my residency as something to "just get through." In reality - it was one of the best times in my life! The end of the book is so true - there's something in you at the end of various chapters in life that demand acknowlegment. Some closure if you will. This book helped me remember the absurd, demanding, but fun times I've had and hopefully have yet to come in my professional life. I would highly recommend this book for anyone who is considering undergoing a healthcare professionals residency or extra education! It was a a PLEASURE to read!!

  • Big Shell
    2019-04-29 13:15

    "I'm not god" is quite possibly the most irritating pseudohumblebrag anyone could ever come up with. There are some great moments, but most of what's in here are formulated and stale. The sort of thing way too common in doctor autobiographies - more about what the writers think the readers want to hear. Some reflective moments were great. Vaguely disturbed by how casual Collins is about reguarly breaking confidentiality to entertain the wife (but I guess in their culture it counts as "good family man" moral point or something). At least one chapter was creepy beyond any doubt. Mostly insincere vibe. Just go a read some surgeons' blogs instead.

  • Cheyenne
    2019-05-06 16:23

    This book had a lot of potential, but it was unfocused, sexist, and unappealing. The doctor writing this tried to set it up like a bad 80s movie where he was the underdog that would then rise up to be top dog, defeating all odds. The sexism was so apparent, and I hated how he always had to comment on how attractive or unattractive his female patients where. At times he even seemed like he was hitting on other women despite having a wife and 12 kids!! To say the least, I did not like this man much, and so large portions of the book were unbearable. Also he daydreams a lot and imagines conversations that never happened and it was just really annoying.

  • Collin
    2019-05-08 14:13

    A very entertaining book about a man's surgical residency. It's informative if you're interested in medicine yourself (as is the case for me), but deserves to be read on the merit of it's entertainment value alone. At times hilarious, touching, and tragic. It's a rather short memoir, but you find yourself really caring about the author and his story by the end. Read it all in a few days and didn't want it to end.

  • Idrees
    2019-05-01 12:27

    Engaging memoir of a passionate and funny surgeon; narrated by the great voice of John Pruden.A bit different from other memoirs I've read before, as in this memoir Dr Collins talk about his family and personal life a little bit. There were bits that I liked, and others that I did not.Over all; a really good read.

  • Fate's Lady
    2019-05-20 15:31

    It's not the point, but the biggest impression this book left me with was how selfish and gross that this dude has TWELVE kids. He talks a lot about how poor they are struggling to make ends meet, and how he's so busy that his kids don't even know him, and then he talks about golfing and playing hockey. The stories of the ER were interesting and sometimes funny, but they're often tainted with misogynistic garbage and inappropriate jokes. I'm fully aware that medical staff use dark humor to power through, but a book intended for the public is not the place. And his buddy joking about only hiring nurses with huge tits isn't funny, it's just disgusting.

  • Joan
    2019-04-29 19:34

    Collins gives us a little peek into the life of an intern during his four years of residency. He tells how the interns watch surgeries until the attending doctor thinks they are ready to do a part of the surgery and then the whole surgery. Collins and his wife, Patti are living from hand to mouth with no money. Collins moonlights for $20 an hour so the family can get by. His sleepless nights are dangerous to himself when driving and I wonder how he did in surgery without sleep. His descriptions of his many junker cars is very funny. Yearly, the two have another child, four by the end of the residency. Watching Collins struggle to make enough money, the reader wonders why they would have a child a year. The connection between Collins and his wife is beautiful and inspiring. Collins makes great friends of the other interns. We see Collins learn to become a better doctor who cares about his patients and learns to understand it is not just the surgery, but also the emotional life of the patient he must care for.After reading this, it makes the reader wonder if the sleepless interns are really safe to make life and death decisions on their patients. I enjoyed the book. It is funny, emotional, and instructive.

  • Jen
    2019-05-19 15:08

    Told through flashback, Michael J. Collins’ Hot Lights, Cold Steel is a sleep-deprived romp through four years of orthopedic residency at the Mayo Clinic. Although published more than 20 years after his days as a resident, readers will feel as though they are along for the ride with Collins and his colleagues. He walks us through his thought process as he confronts his first views of surgery and many sleepless nights moonlighting in a rural emergency room. While the book doesn’t give great insight into the practice of orthopedic medicine, it does have enough descriptive scenes to make the squeamish blanch. But the focus is really on Collins’ journey and how he overcomes his feelings of inadequacy. Devouring textbooks and journals with Stedman’s Medical Dictionary by his side, Collins pushes to acquire the knowledge and experience needed to rise to chief resident. His story gives readers an appreciation for the financial and emotional sacrifices that doctors (and their families) make during training. It also might have some readers asking their surgeons when they last slept. This entertaining read is recommended for public, academic and medical libraries.- Read and reviewed for LIS2586

  • Sophia
    2019-04-24 14:07

    Hot Nights, Cold Steel is the autobiography of an orthopedic residency. Dr. Michael J. Collins came to the prestigious Mayo Clinic out of medical school feeling unprepared, but through 2 years as a junior resident and 2 as a senior (and then chief) resident, he found the experience worthwhile. Collins manages to pepper the story with salty humor despite the hard times, including horrific traumas, extreme sleep deprivation, and moonlighting at a rural ER to make ends meet for his growing family. (He fathered children 3 children, #2-4 of 12!, during residency.) However, there are also serious moments where the author contemplates the meaning of this never-ending work; such moments becomes more frequent as his seniority grows and the chapters become more spaced out. Like other books in this genre, this is a retrospective approximation which inherently paints the protagonist in a favorable light, the one who preservers. Nonetheless, Hot Nights, Cold Steel is a fine memoir by an orthopod (often stereotyped as the dumb jocks of the medical world) with a truly supportive wife.

  • Jess
    2019-05-15 17:22

    One of the reasons we (I'm assuming here) read doctor memoirs is to see the humanity that we miss in a world most of us can only understand a tiny part of. Dr. Collins seems to forget that. The stories are interesting, the patients are memorable, and his work ethic is admirable. But I never felt like I was reading about a person. He was a baby-making, middle-of-the-night, mistake-eschewing machine. Dr. Collins is probably an amazing doctor but, as an author, I wonder if he might have left his human condition in the operating room.

  • Katie
    2019-05-07 11:04

    This Orthopedic surgeon is a very good storyteller! Good sense of humor - his wife needs to write a book about surviving life with all those kids without her husband around!It is biography of his life and a collection of very touching/humorous/nerve wracking stories on his journey of becoming and practicing as an M.D.I think of my grandfather, leaving his wife to raise six kids without him around, and all the stories he used to tell me of late night calls, the heartbreak and the thrills of being an Ortho.

  • Paige Plucker
    2019-05-07 17:29

    This book was very interesting; it debunked some of the doctor stereotypes and was pretty funny at times. However, I quickly got frustrated with Dr. Collins. Throughout the book, he makes little comments that demean women, and there is a general absence of females from the book. He barely gives his wife any attention, and expects her to take care of several children on a meager budget and not complain! Maybe it's just me and my intolerance of male entitlement, but this wasn't a good book.

  • Granny
    2019-05-10 16:10

    This book was even better than expected, interlaced with dark humor. I turned the tv off and read the book all evening! A very likable group of would-be surgeons, indeed!

  • Cristin
    2019-05-08 17:10

    Incredible,inspiring and heart-breaking. I laughed and I cried.

  • Lisa
    2019-05-10 15:34

    Really enjoyed this book. I got some good insight into what 4 years of medical residency looks like.

  • António Alves
    2019-05-20 11:30

    A great insight into the life of an orthopedic surgeon at arguably the best medical center in the world, the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Michael, the author and protagonist, manages to complete his time-consuming residency while moonlighting at another hospital on almost no sleep, and taking care of his family (he eventually had 12 kids). It's entertaining! I found it inspiring to read about his work ethic.However, I feel the book is filled with too much technical information. Even though it is the autobiography of a surgeon during his residency program, he occasionally goes into detailed descriptions of a surgery(not textbook AT All, this book is not meant to teach anything, but a couple of paragraphs at a time of anatomical descriptions and surgical techniques), which could be of interest to some, though I am a medical student and still found it interrupted the flow of the book. Usually the descriptions are good and can be understood by anyone.This was a good book, but I wouldn't recommend it to someone outside the field or who shows no interest in medicine because they would likely be overwhelmed by its technical jargon.

  • Harker US Library
    2019-05-01 19:33

    Hot Lights, Cold Steel tells the story of Dr. Collins while he was a resident at the Mayo Clinic. Specifically, it is a medical memoir about his life; Dr. Collins went from a lowly junior resident to the chief resident of orthopedics at one of the most renowned hospitals in the world. He did this by working his way up and working tirelessly, trying to learn all he could. Moreover, he worked extremely hard to support his family, moonlighting in Mankato Hospital 90 miles away from his home just to make ends meet. The story is centered on the theme of choices and making the right one for the patient in the hardest of circumstances. For example, a young teenager came to him with a severely damaged leg, and he had to make the choice of whether to amputate the leg or try to save the leg and risk the boy's life. Dr. Collins' story is absolutely riveting and a great read for anyone interested in becoming a doctor. - Simar B. '20

  • Terry
    2019-05-01 18:13

    The book follows the learning process of an orthopedic surgeon at the Mayo Clinic, some time in the 80s and/or 90s. The author talks about his success and journey to expertise but a second character omnipresent in the book is exhaustion. He tells stories of working 20-30 hour days which seems both dangerous and Herculean. The author has wit as do those supporting him and the reader gets the presence of the other personalities that go into a teaching hospital.The three take aways I got were:The author gives you impression that orthopedic surgery is largely solved. Anything that can happen in orthopedic surgery has a known solution. Scrap values of cars have skyrocketed. The author was regularly getting $25 for vehicles and that's 1/20th the value they are now.The author admits that there's a fundamental problem to a teaching hospital where the patients are going to be attended to be attended to by students.The book was fine, eh.

  • Christopher
    2019-05-15 17:22

    Collins is funny and he's a good story-teller, but his book was weighted down by staleness (a one-trick pony shouldn't write a 300 page book), vulgarity (From the acknowledgements: "To [my little kids]... just because you hear or read bad words doesn't mean you have to use them." (pg. 307)), and, well, shallowness. While I usually understood what he was getting at, his philosophizing never attained a plane higher than tolerable "What I Learned during my Summer Vacation" high-school prose.While I was initially reading it out loud to my wife and we were both fascinated, by about page 200, we mutually agreed that it had become tiresome, and I just finished it quickly on my own.

  • Katelyn
    2019-05-01 18:28

    I raced through this compulsively readable true story of Collins' residency at Mayo Clinic. At times funny, scary, fascinating, gross and always interesting. Highly recommended. I also enjoyed reading the bits about his family life. During his residency his wife was managing four young kids.The one downside is there a lot of hot women jokes. Maybe a product of the times? They wouldn't get by an editor today.

  • Sunny
    2019-05-18 18:25

    It was a good book. Funny quotes and showed a real perspective of what its like to be a resident. Although the author was very honest and didnt hide or decorate/fabricate anything, he wasnt my favorite. There were some things I didnt agree with him and things that happened that I am still questioning why he put it in the book. Overall the book was good but not great. I am not sure if I would recommend it to anyone since it wasnt quite my style.

  • Melissa
    2019-05-15 13:31

    All I can say is thank goodness I did not have a four year residency! I don't know If I would have been able to stand it. In house on call was not my thing. Accurate portrayal, makes me tired just thinking back.