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Blue Collar, Blue Scrubs: The Making of a Surgeon

4.17  ·  Rating Details ·  782 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
It looked for a while as if Michael Collins would spend his life breaking concrete and throwing rocks for the Vittorio Scalese Construction Company. He liked the work and he liked the pay. But a chance remark by one of his coworkers made him realize that he wanted to involve himself in something bigger, something more meaningful than crushing rocks and drinking beer. In hi ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 25th 2010 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published May 26th 2009)
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Jul 22, 2009 Tommy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Inspiring is just one of the many words I would use to describe such a detailed and powerful memoir of a simple yet hardworking man on the road to becoming a doctor. For those of us that are even remotely interested in medicine, this is a MUST read. I was truly intrigued by the comedic and brash dialogue that is used from someone who has an "M.D" next to their name other than the typical mindset of someone who thinks like a scientist.
Aug 25, 2009 Mazola1 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In his first book, Dr. Michael Collins wrote about his training as an orthopedic surgeon at the Mayo Clinic. That book was gritty, real and human. When I picked up his second book, I thought it would be about his experiences in private practice. Surprisingly, it is not. It is about his life as a blue collar worker before medical school, and his years as a medical student and young husband. Dr. Collins has a fresh and original way of writing about something that has been written about many, many ...more
Sep 14, 2011 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is the "prequel" to Collins' previous book about his years as a resident at the Mayo Clinic. This book starts off when he's still a construction worker and spends some time with him during that phase of his life (this was the least interesting part of the book to me--I wanted to get to the medical stuff. Although it did illustrate how different his daily life, job, and circle of friends was during this phase of his life). Like his last book, this book is full of humor, only turning ser ...more
Aug 02, 2013 Melissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pre-med
I loved this book. Some successful pre-med (now med student) recommended this to me and I think it really did open my eyes to some things I never would have considered with all his philosophical "garble". At times I thought it was silly for him to bother mentioning that stuff since, in medicine, you've gotta do what you've gotta do. Not that anyone should be an egotistical grouch to get it done. I just certainly had some appreciation regarding his compassion for all the patients he discussed. I ...more
Sep 28, 2009 Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone whoever considered becoming a doctor
With much self-deprecating humor, Michael Collins, recounts the events that led him down the highly unlikely path to becoming a top-notch orthopedic surgeon. Without preaching, without self-aggrandizement, he shares the secrets of becoming a doctor--drive, unbelievable hard work, and sacrifice. He doubts himself every step of the way, endearing himself to the reader as he allows us into his private thoughts and shares the concoctions of his overactive imagination when the going gets tough, proof ...more
Ross Pennie
Aug 04, 2009 Ross Pennie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just finished this wonderful memoir that chronicles the transformation of a grunting, beer-drinking labourer into a full-of-heart medical doctor who ends up as a surgeon at the world-famous Mayo Clinic. Wow! What a wonderful read. The author's turn of phrase is masterful: personal, charming, vivid, self-deprecating; perfect use of simile and metaphor. I didn't want it to end. The recurrent motif of beer-drinking, and the theme of overriding financial hardship, kept the protagonist real and gro ...more
Jun 28, 2009 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dr. Collins is one of the best doctor/writers whose work I have had the pleasure to read. In his most recent book, Blue Collar, Blue Scrubs", Dr. Collins pens his process of deciding to pursue medicine as well as the challenges of this endeavor and the requisite schooling. In addition, he mentions his personnel life to add depth to the circumstances surrounding his experiences. I found myself laughing at several points as he described the interactions with his brother and wife. Overall, I dare t ...more
Jun 16, 2009 Wendy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a great story...kind of a "rags to riches" tale of an unlikely candidate for medical school who has a desire that drives him past every roadblock to achieve his dream. The author was a construction worker with little direction in his life, when he makes the decision to become a doctor. The book outlines his experiences before and during medical school. There is a lot of medical details, and if you are at all squeamish, this might not be a comfortable read. Beyond that is the lesson of f ...more
Jun 29, 2011 Katherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting story. He's now a doctor in Hinsdale, so I could probably look him up. Many interesting stories within each chapter. Recommended reading, especially resonates with people who live in Chicago and recognize some of the places where he spent time working or getting together with friends.
May 10, 2016 Fredric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some fascinating insights into the making of a physician. Collins starts the memoir with a cheerful accounting of his days in the construction trades as a laborer. He doesn't make it clear why a young man with a Bachelor's degree is making his living tossing chunks of broken concrete into a truck and some explanation would have helped give the narrator credibility. The writing style is crisp and frequently humorous but I was anxious for the story to develop more quickly.

When it does take the maj
Deborah Wilson
Dr. Collins has a friendly narrative style that is engaging. the prequel to hot lights, Cold Steel, was written and published after his successful memoir of his residency. This book details his de is ion to change his life course, and enter medical s bool. What is admirable is that once his decision is made, he stays the course, succeeding admirably. But, during his medical school years, he makes a series of self discoveries and somehow develops a greater sense of empathy and understanding for h ...more
Emily Pope
This is another book where I was left feeling a little disappointed. I was hoping that the book would go more into the details of learning to be a surgeon, and less focus on the author getting into med school itself. The first 1/3 or even close to 1/2 of the book is discussing the process of getting into med school.

Also, as a veterinary student, I found myself laughing at the amount of complaining about anatomy, spending all this time in anatomy lab, anatomy lab is so hard... I couldn't help but
Sep 27, 2012 Erika rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was particularly interested in this book because this man's journey to becoming a surgeon is so similar to my husband's-construction worker who realizes that he wanted to involve himself in something bigger, something more meaningful and fulfilling, and wanting to do good. I was hooked. I laughed. I cried. I was shocked. I gained a new appreciation for my husband and gained new insight. This book breathed new life into me as the wife of a medical student, because let's face it, the road is lon ...more
Jan 20, 2012 Dave rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this. Dr. Collins does a great job of telling his story of being a regular guy construction worker and transforming into a full fledged doctor. I enjoyed reading about how he struggled with certain things in the world of medicine like coming to grips with the fact that you can't save everyone. There's also some very funny scenes to that literally made me laugh out loud. I was also impressed by the prose he used to tell his story along the way. This guy really can write. I am lea ...more
Jun 22, 2013 Kathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author says it the best near the end of the book: "I have gone from a boozing, bruising laborer on a breakout gang to a husband, father and doctor in five years." The first book I read about Mike Collins was about the years of his residency at the Mayo Clinic. This book is the prequel. He is a gifted author as well as the other things mentioned above. I love the way he wove his crazy Irish family, his work buddies and his medical compatriots together into this true tale. His compassion for h ...more
Dec 13, 2011 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: aspiring doctors
Recommended to Mike by: no this title from the other book he wrote
Having read Michael Collins's other book, Hot Lights, Cold Steel, I knew what to expect going in...and I was not disappointed in the least.

This book is the pre-quel to his Hot Lights, Cold Steel book where he talks about his life in the years just before and his pre-med experiences. Here we learn about him working as a Blue Collar Worker for a construction company in Chicago. From one of his co-workers, he gets the idea of becoming a doctor so we read about his struggles and triumphs throughout
Nov 04, 2012 Andrea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs, medical
Just hysterical. Had me reading parts out clouds to my husband and it's not very often that happens!! We both could relate to the author for. different reasons. Me, working hard to GAH where you want to be when no one thinks you can do it/being a nurse like his wife and relating to a "residency" and being from the Chicago area where the author is from so I knew the places he was mentioning and now living and. working in Rochester, MN. Hubby could definitely relate to his construction days and re ...more
May 16, 2016 TienDat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Relaxing to read

I'm really curious about "the making of a surgeon" b/c I love to become a neurosurgeon. He has a really good sense of humor, I think the worker environment nurtured it very well :) . His frank, sociable, hard-working, humble characteristics erase my perspective of a surgeon as a cold, quite, gifted one. He wrote about his memoir for about 10 years. It's not a so long time, but what matter are his dedication to all his work, his determination to his dream. "Hard work always pays o
May 07, 2014 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book and read it quickly, in about a day. I can't say that I liked it as much as the author's other book "Hot Lights, Cold Steel," because this one was a little less about the medical field and more about the author's life before and as he was just starting out in medicine. I have to say I am very impressed at how hard this man works, and it is inspiring. There's still a lot of humor, family values, wisdom, and poignancy in this book, and I definitely admire this doctor's d ...more
Jul 08, 2011 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The beginning of the book with its crass language and drinking,was not to my liking. It does depict a certain blue collar element that may seem stereotypical, however I encountered these attitudes while working in a paper mill and also a plastics factory job, as well as having to walk by mill workers on their cigarette breaks as I walked home from school 7th through 12 grades and faced whistles and comments. You had to admire this guys determination to get into medical school as an underdog and ...more
Feb 21, 2010 Barbw rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs, non-fiction
Mike Collins, a demolition concrete worker from the west side of Chicago, takes a fellow crewmember's comment about his future to heart. He's a single, twenty-four year old college graduate who's still living at home. With no money he quits his job and starts a two-year pre-med program at a local college. He applies to eight medical schools and gets accepted to Loyola. I really enjoyed this book but almost gave up on it because of the rough language at the beginning. Don't make that mistake! It' ...more
Feb 22, 2015 Renee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. This was something else.

It started out sort of slow and we slogged through a bunch of stuff that I kept thinking could have been edited/condensed slightly added the idea of it "asses and elbows" as it slogged through but it definitely picked up about 1/3 of the way in and I was actively thinking about the book, about reading the book, as soon as I had spare moments.

There were quite a few things towards the end; thoughts, ideas, events that are well written and incredibly emot
Mar 24, 2016 Marina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the best memoirs I have ever read - funny, insightful, powerful and inspiring, especially to people struggling to persevere against all odds (and not just in medicine). A couple parts of the book are definitely relics of the 20th century (a scene where the male interns can't find the insertion site for a urinary catheter in a female patient comes to mind) but they are told with dry humor and really are a testament to how far we've come. Overall, it asks some very powerful questions about ...more
Madi Franco
Aug 30, 2015 Madi Franco rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I genuinely enjoyed this book. The beginning was very slow, but after the first 50 pages the pace started to pick up. I enjoyed that Collins didn't sugar-coat anything. This book was surprisingly hilarious, philosophical, and inspirational. I would definitely recommend the read, even to those who aren't necessarily interested in the medical field. This book proved to be much more than just a medical school journey.
Wayne A. Maruna
Totally Wonderful

Humorous and thought provoking. Mr. - excuse me - Dr. Collins must have had super-human energy in his 20s to have led the life he did on so little sleep and so much beer while expending so much back breaking energy before a co-worker challenged him to think about his future. I don't think I've ever read a book so quickly. Time to order and read "Hot Lights, Cold Steel".
Luna Oliveira
Sep 21, 2014 Luna Oliveira rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't even begin to describe the significance of this book in my own life. It pushed me harder, made me believe in the impossible and helped me weed out the naysayers of my life (including fellow med students). We have too much noise in the world- learn to tune out and listen to the voice within. And read this book while you're at it.
Aug 25, 2012 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an entertaining read! Collins shares his experiences in transforming from a rock-thrower on a construction crew into a physician. His insight, humility and humor make this a book I couldn't put down and I now want to read his first book "Hot Lights, Cold Steel" that shares his years as a resident in orthopedic surgery.

I know if I needed an orthopod in Chicago, I'd definitely call him.
Jul 19, 2012 Alan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable account of a graduate of Notre Dame Univ in English, who after spending a few years doing brute force labor on a construction gang and drinking a lot, decides to go to medical school. This memoir of his premed (2 years of catchup intensive science) and compressed 3 years of medical school are told with humor, wisdom and empathy. Good read.
Aug 15, 2011 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read for those that like stories written by people in medicine. Dr. Collins works construction, drives a cab and tries to find time to study while courting his bride to be. Amazing drive and desire.
Firas Addas
Aug 08, 2015 Firas Addas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book.

Shows how with hard work and dedication anything can be achieved.

Starting from how Dr. Collins used to work throwing rocks at a construction site, then wanting to change and become a Doctor. It is never too late to achieve a dream or goal in your life.
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Mike Collins was born on the West Side of Chicago. His first book, HOT LIGHTS, COLD STEEL, describes his years as a surgical resident at the Mayo Clinic. His second book, BLUE COLLAR, BLUE SCRUBS, due to be released on May 26, 2009, turns back the clock to his years as a construction worker dreaming of becoming a doctor.
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“I'm taking inorganic chem and physics not because I want to but because I have to. Not every doctor wants to be a scientist. Some of us just want to take care of sick people. I can't help thinking that medicine is more closely aligned to the humanities than to the sciences. I can't help thinking that I could learn more about being a good doctor from William Shakespeare than I could from Isaac Newton. After all, isn't understanding people at least as important as understanding pathology?” 16 likes
“I'm starting to realize that I can't be a child forever, that I don't want to be a child forever. I've had my turn, and now it's time to grow up.” 4 likes
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