Emily Yoffe on being a Human Guinea Pig.

Real-time discussions with Slate writers.
July 5 2007 5:19 PM

Oh, No She Didn't!

Emily Yoffe talks with readers about being a Human Guinea Pig.

Emily Yoffe was online at Washingtonpost.com on Thursday, July 5, to discuss her adventures as Slate's Human Guinea Pig, the latest of which involved being examined by medical students. An unedited transcript of the chat follows.

(Continued from Page 4)

The people who are trained to be genital/urinary standardized patients really do instruct the young doctors in how to perform the exam, what hurts, when to press harder etc. What an amazing job!


Kingstowne, Va.: Can I receive free treatment by volunteering to be a patient?

Hmmm... on second thought....


Emily Yoffe: Go with that "second thought"


Clinton, N.Y.: I love you, Emily Yoffe! You always bring to light the funny, telling detail and your Dear Prudence advice is fab.

Suggestion for a Human Guinea Pig gig: Do a cooking class, not at CIA or the like, but at a Y, or some such more modest operation. I am a nervous wreck in the kitchen, and have always wondered whether a course would make me any more competent or confident.

Emily Yoffe: Thank you so much. I'm also one of those freaked out cooks. I'm so glad I don't have an open kitchen, that way my guests don't see me bleeding and crying on their food.

I think going to a really serious cooking school would be a fun Guinea Pig.


New York, N.Y.: Have you ever considered backup singer for jingles? Every time I hear an add with a jingle that involves multiple singers I can't help but to imagine them in the recording studio singing these cheesy/odd lines.

For example the loan ad for 8-6-6-66-Faster, "You've got the Green Light." And these are good singers. Are they professional backups, karaoke flies, American Idol rejects? I'd like you to find out. Thanks.

Emily Yoffe: I did make my singing debut at Strathmore Hall for Human Guinea Pig. My editor said listening to it was the aural equivalent of watching the Hindenberg explode.


Gaithersburg, Md.: I really enjoy the "Human Guinea Pig" series. I was wondering how the "Dear Prudence" experience is different for you. Certainly the readers seem more ... um ... pointed ... in their opinions.

Emily Yoffe: They are different, but I love the reader feedback from Prudence because people will immediately tell me if they disagree (strenuously) with my advice. I learn a lot from them.


A good bedside manner is nice: But I'm much more interested in a knowledgable doctor; I'd gladly sacrafice some social skills for a top notch surgeon. In fact, I don't think one person can be all, so I'd rather have the doctoring skills. I have my own friends on the outside, thanks. What I need is an orthopaedic surgeon, and if he's a little low on the social skills, that's okay, you'd have to have a bit of an ego to be able to cut into people and save lives.

Emily Yoffe: Good point. But I know from (too many) friends who have cancer that it's very disturbing if your oncologist does not make a human connection with you. With your surgeon, during most of your relationship you're unconscious. With other doctors, you want good medicine, absolutely, but feeling your are a real person to your doctor is also important.


Emily Yoffe: Thanks everyone for your fascinating questions and good Human Guinea Pig suggestions!


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