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Blue Collar, Blue Scrubs: The Making of a Surgeon Paperback – May 25, 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

An orthopedic surgeon whose Mayo Clinic residency he recalled in Hot Lights, Cold Steel, Collins reaches further back to tell of his days as a Chicago construction worker and, later, medical student. For a few years after college, Collins enjoyed the physicality of constructing curbs and gutters and drinking beer with his pals. But Collins, the oldest of eight boys in a close-knit Irish Catholic family, felt a vague yearning for something more meaningful, which finally coalesced into the dream of becoming a doctor. The Notre Dame graduate went back to college for two years of pre-med courses and entered Loyola at the ripe old age of 26. The next few years were a reality check: the rote memorization in medical school, the petty tasks assigned to an on-call med student and the shock, in his last year of medical school, of finding his intern had committed suicide. Collins received a battlefield promotion to intern. He eventually found himself right at home with the œorthopods, who lack the pretension of the other surgical specialists. This is a perceptive, no-frills memoir of a surgeon who succeeded by dint of hard work and brains. (June)
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Review

“Collins's gritty memoir traces his journey from a grimy construction pit to the hallowed halls of medicine. An engaging read--and a valuable reminder that doctors come from all walks of life.” ―Sandeep Jauhar, author of Intern: A Doctor's Initiation

“Collins has a poet's soul, whether describing the sunrise through a laborer's eyes or what it means to be human through a physician's. . . . Literary talent produces this fast-paced memoir filled with easy, unforced dialogue and authentic characters from all walks of life.” ―Booklist

“Collins has a superb ear for dialogue, and his breezy style makes his world spring to life.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“This is a perceptive, no-frills memoir of a surgeon who succeeded by dint of hard work and brains.” ―Publishers Weekly

Blue Collar, Blue Scrubs is a gripping, humane, humorous, and an enlightening read.” ―Abraham Verghese, author of My Own Country, The Tennis Partner, and Cutting for Stone

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (May 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312610912
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312610913
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Dr. Collins definitely has the Irish gift of storytelling; his writing and memory are so detailed that the reader quickly obtains a vivid image of Collins road from "rock thrower" to pre-med to medical student, and finally to doctor.

However, the more important theme is Collins' personal maturation from young man to grown man during this journey. Although it is clear that Collins' family gave him a very solid foundation upon to build, he simultaneously mixes humor with heartache (or rather, grueling work ethic) to reflect on his early 20s when he was less mature and searching for personal fulfillment and how on the road to medical school, he also developed into a very well-rounded and content family man. His personal journey is the true focal point of this book, while the professional journey is important, but secondary; for this reason, "Blue Collar, Blue Scrubs" is a great book for any age and any career path, but would also be *perfect* for a recent male college graduate. Toward the end of the book, it is interesting to read how his new roles as a husband and father begin to influence the various situations that he sees in the hospital.

I should additionally note that I may be somewhat biased in my review, seeing as I am a non-traditional, Irish-American student (and new mother) applying to medical school, so much of what Dr. Collins writes resonated greatly for me. However, I can also say (with experience) that anyone considering a trip to medical school via the non-traditional route should read this book for an idea of the type of work ethic that is necessary. The other thing that Collins very importantly writes is that keeping outside interests is of importance - I learned this the hard way!
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Format: Hardcover
In the vein of the Star Wars trilogy, Dr. Collins has followed up the book about his residency with the prologue, the captivating story of how an underemployed college graduate cum construction worker got motivated to go back to school as a premed. The story follows him thru the crucible of applying to med school and then his med school years.

Dr. Collins has a real gift for writing. Some portions of the book are hilarious, as he describes life in a rough-and-tumble family of several boys, the mailman-ambushing family dog, and life in blue collar jobs. But this book is much more than just the story of life on a different side of the tracks. We see Dr. Collins struggle with the realization that everyone can't be saved, ponder how a set of rational decisions in treating a terminal illness can lead to an outcome nobody really wanted, share with him the anguish of treating a badly burned infant and inflict pain. We get a glimpse of how doctors come to compartmentalize emotion in order to get their work done in what can be quite trying circumstances. And yet one senses that Dr. Collins has come out of this the doctor we all hope to have, one that can make decisions dispassionately and yet still cares about his patients. One couldn't carry the stories around all the years he has if they didn't have an impact, and we share with him the struggle to put them in their place.
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Format: Hardcover
I totally enjoyed this book. Dr. Collins is an amazing man with a very interesting life, from hard-labor construction, to cab driving, to fulfilling his dream and becoming a doctor. He's a great storyteller who really drew me into the book so I couldn't put it down (this is unusual for me with nonfiction). He made me wish I knew him and his family personally, that he would make a great friend (albeit without a lot of spare time!)

Although this is actually his second book, it's sort of a prequel to his first. Since this is about his life before becoming a doctor and how he decided to become a doctor, I'm glad I read it first, and now look forward to reading Hot Lights, Cold Steel.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is my first review. I read Collins' first book - 'The Making of a Surgeon' - which I thought was terrific. I have read a lot about medicine but But 'Blue Collar' really takes the cake. This is truly a book about life. It happens to be a doctor's life but it covers the whole scope of a person's efforts to find the right job, have the fortitude to pursue it, find the right gal - and his wife is just fabulous - and so on. It's exciting in many parts but so touching in his relationships, so HONEST in his reflections as an MD. I just loved it. As I said it is a book about out life which is by the way very humorous and well written to boot.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Steep Turn: A Physician's Journey From Clinic to CockpitMike Collins is a great story teller and has authored another wonderful book. He does a great job of describing his grueling and unusual career path from life as a construction laborer to medical school and an M.D. degree. His colorful character descriptions are vivid and entertaining. As a fellow physician I can attest to the fact that he presents an accurate picture of the exhausting and mentally challenging life of a typical medical student. His anguished reflection on the dehumanization of patients being propelled through the health care system is an aspect of medicine all practitioners see but don’t like to think much about; his thoughts on this are a testament to his caring and empathetic nature. These philosophical thoughts seem cathartic for the author, but not overwhelming for the reader, as the book is also generously peppered with the doctor’s hilariously-crafted humor. I highly recommend "Blue Collar, Blue Scrubs" as well as his first book "Hot Lights, Cold Steel."
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