Collins recalls his four-year residency in orthopedic surgery at the Mayo Clinic, which he tells us several times is "the most prestigious medical center in the world." His story alternates between the physical and mental demands of his training at the hospital and his attempts to create a home life with his wife, Patti, and their two young children. In humanizing detail and with little medical jargon, Collins recounts several cases in which he is both a participant and a student. Despite the best efforts of some of the world's best doctors, the patients involved often die. Offsetting these darker moments is Collins's relaxed style, which is punctuated by humor-frequently at his own expense. Easy to read yet thought-provoking, this memoir is an excellent introduction to the requirements of residency medical training. Buy wherever true stories of medical practice are popular or needed.-A.J. Wright, Anesthesiology Lib., Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
An orthopedic surgeon's down-to-earth, fast-paced, and frequently funny memoir of his residency. Collins admits he felt like "the dullest scalpel in the drawer" at the start of his time at the Mayo Clinic, he admits. In short, punchy chapters he chronicles his four-year journey from terrified junior resident to skilled chief resident. Although Collins notes that surgeons are not generally known for their introspective qualities (and his memoir reflects that), he nonetheless freely describes the emotions he felt making his first incision into a living body, witnessing his first patient death, and conducting his first solo operation. As he grew in competence, he grew in confidence. Surgeons fix things, and for a time Collins rejoiced in the ability to do that increasingly well. He thrived on the gratitude and admiration of patients whose bones he had set or whose joints he had replaced. But he came to realize that it wasn't in his power to fix everything, a point made in the stories of a young woman whose cancer could not be halted despite extremely disfiguring surgery and of a boy whose horribly mangled leg Collins failed to save. In other pieces, the surgeon touches on the ethics of the residency system, in which the patient's right to the best care conflicts with the resident's need to learn. While much of the action takes place at the Mayo Clinic, Collins also shares his personal life. With his wife producing a baby each year, he had to take a second job as an emergency-room doctor to feed his growing family. One old car after another died, each replaced by an equally aging wreck. The subzero Minnesota winters vied with perennial lack of sleep as worst physical indignity. Throughout,Collins depicts with a born storyteller's skill the camaraderie among young residents as they journey to medical professionalism. We see them together in and out of the hospital, joshing, competing, and supporting each other. Highly animated-and rich in encounters both sad and hilarious. Agent: Meg Ruley/Jane Rotrosen Agency
From the Publisher
"Like the very best episode of ER, Collins' memoir races from one trauma to the next, keeping this reader spellbound all the way. Collins' life as a surgical resident is heartbreaking one minute and triumphant the next. You'll laugh and cry and cheer along with him as his epic journey to become a doctor races toward its gripping conclusion. I love this book and won't soon forget it."
- Augusten Burroughs, New York Times bestselling author of Dry and Magical Thinking
"One of the best, funniest medical memoirs I have ever read. Hot Lights, Cold Steel is at once darkly humorous and truly compassionate. Not since House of God has there been such a ferociously funny look at the world of hospital medicine."
- Michael Palmer, New York Times bestselling author of Fatal and The Society
"I adore this book. It's so polished and hilarious. It brought back all the stomach-churning anxieties of my own residency so vividly that I felt exhausted reading it. Dr. Collins has my highest admiration. I give this book a 10+!"
- Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of The Surgeon and The Apprentice