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The Prospect of Dying Badly

Jessica Nutik Zitter + Ramon N. Prats

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
7:00 PM–8:30 PM

This isn’t your average book club. Break open the Tibetan Book of the Dead with Buddhist scholar Ramon Prats and draw comparisons between the ancient text and modern-day perspectives on mortality.

Club Meeting #5: The Prospect of Dying Badly

In medical school no one teaches you how to let a patient die. Jessica Zitter became a doctor because she wanted to be a hero. She elected to specialize in critical care and imagined herself swooping in to rescue patients from the brink of death. But then, during her first code, she found herself cracking the ribs of a patient so old and frail it was unimaginable he would ever come back to life. She began to question her choice. Does the Tibetan approach to dying offer a real solution to the insurance-driven commodification of palliative care in the United States?

A book signing by Dr. Zitter follows.

About the Speakers


Jessica Nutik Zitter, MD, MPH, is an expert on the medical experience of death and dying and author of Extreme Measures, which charts Zitter’s journey from wanting to be one kind of hero to becoming another—a doctor who prioritizes the patient’s values and preferences in an environment where the default choice is the extreme use of technology. She attended Stanford University and Case Western Reserve Medical School and completed her residency in internal medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Zitter is double-boarded in the two specialties of pulmonary/critical care medicine and palliative care medicine—a rare combination. She is featured in Extremis, an award-winning documentary about end-of-life decision-making in an ICU.

Ramon N. Prats was the first person to translate The Tibetan Book of the Dead into Spanish. He holds a doctoral degree in Tibetan Studies from the Oriental Institute of the University of Naples (Italy), where he was associate professor of Tibetan language and literature from 1980 to 1995. He was subsequently appointed professor of Buddhist studies at the Pompeu Fabra University of Barcelona (Spain). From 2006 to 2009 he was Senior Curator at the Rubin Museum of Art, where he organized an exhibition on the Bardo Thodrol, among others. Ramon Prats has more than sixty publications to his credit.

Standard Program Admission: $25

Standard Program Admission (Members): $22.50

Series All-Access Pass: $165

Series All-Access Pass (Members): $132