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Dr S. van de Vathorst (1962) has been appointed professor by special appointment of Quality in the Final Phase of Life and of Dying at the University of Amsterdam’s Faculty of Medicine (AMC-UvA). The chair was established on behalf of the organisation Right to Die-NL (NVVE).

Prof Suzanne van de Vathorst
Photo: Jeroen Oerlemans

As professor at the AMC-UvA, Suzanne van de Vathorst hopes to draw more attention to the quality of the final phase of life and of dying. In both her hospital work and as a member of the Regional Euthanasia Review Committee, Van de Vathorst has noted that various key issues remain unaddressed, including the existing friction between a doctor’s right to refuse euthanasia and a patient’s explicit desire for euthanasia.

By focusing her research on medical and nursing practises in the final phase of life, Van de Vathorst will strive to increase scientific knowledge about dignified euthanasia. Besides research, she will also endeavour to improve medical training programmes for doctors and nurses. For the NVVE, the objective is to enhance general knowledge about the choices people have when it comes to a dignified death. 

Van de Vathorst has worked at the Ethics and Philosophy department of the Erasmus Medical Center since 1998. She is a member of the Erasmus MC’s End of Life Committee, which advises the hospital on end of life issues ranging from ceasing treatment to euthanasia. In her capacity as ethicist, Van de Vathorst has also had a seat on the Regional Euthanasia Review Committee since 2009. She was previously a member of the committee charged with advising the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) on issues related to the termination of life of newborns with very severe birth defects. In addition, Van de Vathorst is currently also leading a project to evaluate the regulations governing the Central Committee on Termination of Life (Neonates) and Late-Term Abortions (Centrale Deskundigencommissie), to which all such terminations must be reported.