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

Michael J. Collins

RRP: 10.26
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Hot Lights, Cold Steel 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 s... Full description

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  78 reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blood, Sweat and Tears 6 Dec 2005
By C. Middleton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a well-written and highly polished memoir about an Orthopaedic surgeon's four year residency at the famous Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Dr. Collins is a good writer, giving the impression that he poured his heart and soul into this text: it's funny, at times sad and gruesome in parts, but again, reading about the training surgeon, one gets the distinct feeling that these men and women, having to run through the depths of hell to finally get qualified, must be born to the task - or simply masochistic by nature.

If this memoir is to be believed, and there's no reason why it shouldn't, every nightmare story that you have heard about the four-year residency is absolutely true. It's astounding that these people manage to survive - the tortuous long stretches on their feet saving lives, sometimes reaching 60 to 70 hours is nothing less than miraculous. Treating patients day and night, constantly worrying that you'll screw up, taking peoples lives in your hands could send the most grounded individual around the bend - in some cases it does, but for the most part, these people get through to become qualified surgeons, as did Dr. Collins, but through a lot of blood sweat and tears.

Hot Lights, Cold Steel reads like a novel, as the characterization, structure of the plot and the pathos, the utter sadness of some of his cases, and the joy and exhilaration of his successes, had me just as enthralled as any top selling thriller. Dr. Collins has a gift for description as he illustrates the amputation of a limb, including a section of the patient's pelvis, in such detailed imagery, that it became difficult to read. He also has a great sense of humour, which I believe is so necessary to survive in this profession.

One of the more terrible of the Dr.'s experiences was the attempted resuscitation of a six year old boy who had been run over by a drunk. Collins and the ER staff did everything humanly possible to save the child, but his injuries were too severe. The undeserved death of innocence is hard to take, and it affected the attending staff in a big way. This was also terribly difficult to read. Then there was the young kindergarten teacher who just came in because of a slight pain in her hip, to discover her entire skeleton was riddled with cancer, unfortunately she died six months later. After reading about these cases one realizes that life is fleeting and fragile, and should never be taken for granted.

I have always had great respect for those in the medical profession, but this book has doubled that respect and opened my eyes to their tenacity, courage and skill. This is a great book and is highly recommended.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great book, fascinating story 8 Feb 2005
By Edward C. Olliver - Published on Amazon.com
I loved this book! The story of Collins' surgical residency at the Mayo Clinic is passionate, well-told and very funny. The stories of the sometimes serious injuries facing his patients are balanced with often humorous stories about his young and growing family struggling to make ends meet. I enjoyed gaining an insight into the often difficult life of a barely paid, over-worked resident. What Scott Turow's "One L" was for law students, this book will be for residents. I highly recommend this book!
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great book! 15 Feb 2005
By Eileen Keenan - Published on Amazon.com
Even though this is technically a medical memoir, there is no need to be a medical professional to appreciate this humorous and well-written book chronicling Collins' journey to become an orthopedic surgeon. Although the book primarily focuses on the patients he treated and the lessons he learned along the way, some of the funniest and most touching parts of the book center around Collins' ever-expanding family. Also entertaining are his woes revolving around several piece-of-junk cars. Collins has a cunning wit and a fantastic sense of humor that make this book a joy to read.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hot Lights & Cold Steel 19 Aug 2005
By James J. June - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A very heart-rendering, gut-wrenching book that causes you to get misty-eyed one minute and laugh out loud the next.

It follows a new physician through his four year residency program. He explores the trials and tribulations of his residency while living on the edge of total poverty. All this with no sleep. It is far superior to Willian Nolan's "The Making of a Surgeon."

The real question is, when is Dr. Collins going to write his next book?
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful read 13 Aug 2005
By jah - Published on Amazon.com
This is a book that reads like someone is having a personal conversation with you about what life is truly about. I could not put this book down. One minute you are laughing, the next minute you are in tears. It is stunningly inciteful and gratifyingly soulful.
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