Date of Defense




First Advisor

Dr. Mary Lagerwey


The purpose of this component of a larger study is to assess and compare the attitudes of premedical and undergraduate nursing students at a public Midwestern university towards Voluntary- Assisted Euthanasia (VAE), also known as Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS). With the recent passage of Washington State's Death with Dignity Legislation, there are now two states in which this practice is legal, and it is expected that the issue will become increasingly salient for health care practitioners. Although the roles of nurses and physicians in this practice differ, they are part of the same health care team and frequently form close relationships with chronically ill patients nearing the end of their lives. This closeness of practice makes it more urgent that the comparative attitudes be assessed and addressed early in the educational practice. Although there are many studies of medical students, none of pre-medical students are known. Given the well-known importance of age in moral development, it is important to assess students of the same age considering careers in medicine and nursing. The study will consist of one-time assessment of background information (based on what the literature suggests may correlate with attitudes towards VAE) and responses to scenarios. The scenarios are written so that they are relevant to both physicians and nurses. The study that will be discussed in this paper pertains to the pre-medical students' aspect of VAE. Nursing students will be examined in Fall 2009.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Campus Only