This is “Think Tank,” an occasional series of conversations with Bay Area power players, conducted by San Francisco editors. Interviews have been condensed and edited for clarity.

Name: Jessica Nutik Zitter
Occupation: Critical and palliative care physician at Highland Hospital, Oakland
Age: 51
Residence: Oakland

San Francisco: Your book, Extreme Measures, has sparked a lot of discussion around end-of-life care. What made you want to bring that topic into high school classes?
Jessica Nutik Zitter: I taught my kids sex ed, another taboo we don’t like to talk about, and I thought, Why am I not talking to these same kids about death and dying? I can’t tell you how many teenagers I see around the bedsides of grandparents and even parents in my ICU. For us to think that a 15-year-old is going to faint at the thought of talking about death, it’s just not borne out in reality. I called my kids’ very progressive school, Head-Royce in Oakland, and asked if they’d be interested in having a death ed curriculum. To my surprise, they said, “Sure, come on in.”

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