Background In an undergraduate nursing programme, discussions of what advanced care planning means to individuals resulted in some students questioning whether advanced care planning legislation in Western Australia goes far enough or if it should also include voluntary active euthanasia.
Aim The purpose of these classroom discussions was to ensure future Registered Nurses had a clear understanding of the limits of the WA ACP legislation in relation to their legal obligations as a registered health professional.
Methods Qualitative methods were used including observation of class presentations, student interviews and opinions, written essays. Thematic analysis was applied to these data.
Results Themes included: the conflict between personal versus professional ethics; clear understand that WA ACP legislation covers what a person may refuse, but does not include mode of death; individual conflict about what the words ‘beneficence’ and ‘non-maleficence’ really mean; the legal fact no-one has the right to self-determination about their death.
Discussion The Ethics and Law unit successfully challenges students' notions about patients' autonomous rights versus clinician obligation for non-maleficence and beneficence.
Conclusion Students demonstrate a depth of comprehension and compassion about WA ACP legislation, and significantly, how this may impact on their role as Registered Nurses in the future.
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