Hot Lights, Cold Steel

Hot Lights, Cold Steel Summary

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.

Book Reviews

Kay 7072

Life in the Fast, Tough Lane5 star

This was an accurate description of the real life and hardships of an orthopedic surgeon. The years of residency training is not for the weak of heart and especially body….little sleep , long hours of standing and barely crossing paths with one’s family. The author does a splendid job of portraying his life and feelings throughout his training. An excellent read!55


Truthful depiction of medicine5 star

Well written, interesting book!55

Lane Christian

Real5 star

Book provides a real insight into what it takes to become a doctor. My father is a small town country doc and one of the hardest working men I know. He’s become quite successful as time’s progressed, but I still remember being little and living through his work benders. Loved the book, took me back to some great memories!55


Great book!4 star

As a pre med student I loved the refreshingly honest look into the world of residency. Not everything is perfect and glamorous in the medical field but it is worthwhile and that’s what what this memoir is all about.45


Wow!5 star

Al I can say is wow I enjoyed this book, the characters the humor, and the way Mike told his story, the world through his eyes, was funny, had sad moment, but was wonderful i couldn’t put the book down. Between working full time and going to school, I read this book with every waking moment I had to spare. Thank you Dr. Collins you “sonna bi***” hahah55


Amazing5 star

Amazing.simply amazing55


They5 star

They don't want us to get inspired and break bad study habits that'll prevent us from becoming doctors... So we read this excellent book. A great read for anyone interested in the toils and virtue of practicing medicine.55


This is a must-read!5 star

I loved every bit of this book. Thanks for sharing so much with the world. It's a great story. Can't wait to start Blue Collar, Blue Scrubs!55


Very good book5 star

When I first saw this book ,I wasn't sure if I was something I would like to read. I thought I might be to technical with a bunch of medical terminology and boring. But I was surprised it was a very good read. This book made me realize how hard being a resident is . Michael Collins does a great job of describing his residency at the Mayo Clinic and he has great humor I don't think a book has made me laugh so hard. I love this book so much I finished it in a little over a week and I hardly ever read books. If you are thinking of becoming a orthopedic surgeon I suggest this book it will help you understand just how hard it is to be a surgical resident.55


amazing!5 star

such a perfect, motivational read for a pre medical student like me. i will eventually be a surgical resident and this book and the many others that i have and will read will serve as some form of confirmation that it is what i am meant to do. This book is inspiring and incredibly humorous. i’d recommend it to anyone interested in the medical field or just a good, interesting read.55

Other Books by Dr. Michael J. Collins

Blue Collar, Blue Scrubs


Blue Collar, Blue Scrubs
4.5     82

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