Knowledge and understanding of Voluntary Assisted Dying of new medical graduates: A survey and reflections

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Background: Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) commenced in South Australia on the 31st January 2023 after an 18 month implementation process. The Legislation is promoted as conservative and provides multiple safeguards for patients. Consequences for breaching these safeguards (even accidentally) can range from a report to the Medical Board to fines or imprisonment.

In order to ensure safety and confidence for staff and patients at our Local Health Network an extensive education program has been undertaken.

Although not administering VAD, new medical graduates commencing as Interns may well find themselves at the forefront of patients requesting VAD and need to have a process for addressing this.

Aim and Method: To gain an understanding of the knowledge and concerns of new medical graduates about VAD, a de-identified survey was undertaken during their Orientation week, which included a presentation on VAD.

Results: 78 new Interns commenced at Flinders Medical Centre in 2023. The majority of these are South Australian Medical Graduates with no prior exposure to VAD, and 80 % are aged between 20-30 years of age. Most (80%) had very little or no teaching around End-of-Life care in the curriculum, and only 7% had received prior education around VAD. The majority (90%) had considered their personal stance on VAD, but in contrast a minority had thought about the potential roles around VAD that they may be asked to undertake. Of concern a small number believed it was legal to raise the topic of VAD with a patient, which puts them at risk of an automatic report to the Medical Board (AHPRA).

Conclusion: The results of this survey demonstrate the critical need for education and support around end-of-life care, and the myriad complexities associated with VAD to ensure safety for patients and staff.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sept 2023
EventOceanic Palliative Care Conference - International Convention Centre, Sydney, Australia
Duration: 13 Sept 202315 Sept 2023


ConferenceOceanic Palliative Care Conference
Abbreviated title23OPCC

Bibliographical note

Oral presentation, 11:30 am 14 September 2023


  • Voluntary assisted dying
  • Education


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