Here’s the reality.  We’re all going to die one day, and it’s good to have a little bit of say in how.

Jessica Zitter, M.D.


Episode 7: Dr. Jessica Zitter

Dr. Jessica Zitter, MD, MPH, is committed to changing the current paradigm of end-of-life medical decision-making. In today’s medical culture, the dying are often put on what she calls the “End-of-Life Conveyor Belt.” They are intubated, catheterized, and die attached to machines, frequently without even knowing they are dying.

In her work, Zitter builds bridges between patients and the healthcare team, striving to offer care aligned with each patient’s values and preferences. She has come to see that patients empowered with knowledge can die well, even beautifully.

Dr. Zitter practices the unusual combination of Critical and Palliative Care medicine at Highland Hospital, a public hospital in Oakland, Calif. She attended Stanford University and Case Western Reserve University Medical School and earned her masters in Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley. Her medical training includes an Internal Medicine residency at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and a fellowship in Pulmonary/Critical Care at the University of
California, San Francisco. She is also co-founder of Vital Decisions, a telephone-based counseling service for patients with life-limiting illness.

Dr. Zitter is the author of Extreme Measures – Finding a Better Path to the End of Life, due to publish this month. She is a
regular contributor to The New York Times and her writing has appeared in The AtlanticThe Huffington Post, Pacific Standard, JAMA, and The Journal of the American Medical Association. She is featured in the short documentary Extremis, which won top honors at the Tribeca and San Francisco International Film Festivals now streaming on Netflix.

She lives in Oakland with her husband, three children, and two dogs.

Extremis Trailer –