Dr. Jessica Zitter, MD, MPH practices the unusual combination of Critical and Palliative Care medicine at Highland Hospital, the public hospital in Oakland, California. She uses storytelling to examine the overmedicalization of death in America. Her essays appear in her book, Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the End of Life, The New York Times, and other publications. Over the past 5 years, she has turned to filmmaking to draw audiences into this important conversation. Her films include the Oscar-nominated Extremis (Netflix) and Caregiver: A Love Story. She is at work on her third film, The Chaplain of Oakland, which examines the crisis of racial healthcare inequities at the end of life. In 2021, she founded a nonprofit organization, Reel Medicine Media, to maximize the impact of her films through organizational partnerships, curriculum generation, and public speaking.
Dr. Zitter 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 Pulmonary/Critical Care fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco. She also is co-founder of Vital Decisions, a telephone-based counseling service for patients with life-limiting illness. Jessica lives in Piedmont with her family and has a graduating senior at UC Berkeley.