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

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

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medicine, , surgery, bios-memoirs, 104-books-in-2016, memoirs, non-fiction, non-fiction, 2020, 2012, science-and-medicine, 2019-books, Health, Medical, Nonfiction, Autobiography, Science, Biography, Biography Memoir, Audiobook

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.

Title:Hot Lights, Cold Steel: Life, Death and Sleepless Nights in a Surgeon's First Years
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780312352691
Format Type:

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

  • Sonja Arlow

    3.5 starsI think the reason I love medical memoirs, and specifically those dealing with the first few years of a newly graduated medical student is that their first year as interns are as relatable as...

  • India M. Clamp

    Starts with a 14-year-old boy in the OR and Dr. Collins must make the decision of saving or amputating his leg. This also occurs post residency at “The Mayo Clinic” and his appointment to chief re...

  • Imran

    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 caug...

  • Peter Tillman

    This is Dr. Collin's memoir of his four years as a surgical resident at Minnesota's Mayo Clinic. It's quite a story. I don't usually think of memoirs as page-turners, but this one kept me up until 2AM...

  • Alina

    "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 ...

  • Chey

    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...

  • Kimberly

    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 ...

  • Mari

    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 o...

  • Jenn

    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...

  • Kathy

    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 lable...