AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Journal of Ethics Header

AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

AMA Journal of Ethics. February 2018, Volume 20, Number 2: 195-196.
doi: 10.1001/journalofethics.2018.20.2.imhl1-1802.

Images of Healing and Learning

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The Crisis in Our Neighborhood

This comic on the opioid crisis, portraying patients’ humanity and physicians’ roles in harm reduction, won the 2017 Conley Art of Medicine Contest.

Artwork and caption by Jason Bitterman, MD

Editor’s Note: Jason Bitterman is the winner of the 2017 AMA Journal of Ethics Conley Art of Medicine Contest.


Figure 1. Detail from “The Crisis in Our Neighborhood,” by Jason Bitterman
(Click image to view the entire comic strip, and then click again to enlarge.)


Ink and paper.


This comic represents various clinical and ethical dimensions of the skyrocketing incidence of opioid overdose. The comic also seeks to represent the humanity of patients struggling with addiction and to highlight the importance of clinicians’ roles in helping mitigate the harms of opioid dependence.

Jason Bitterman, MD, is a resident in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School/Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in Newark, New Jersey. His medical comics are published at

Go Home, Med Student: Comics as Visual Media for Students’ Traumatic Medical Education Experiences, February 2018

Shared Responsibility: Massachusetts Legislators, Physicians, and An Act Relative to Substance Use Treatment, Education, and Prevention, September 2016

Smiles, Apologies, and Drawing Trauma-Informed Care in the PurpLE Clinic, January 2018

They Are People First, Then Patients, May 2017

The viewpoints expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.