Course Information

Voluntarily Stopping Eating & Drinking (VSED) is an intentional and voluntary (non-coerced) choice to stop further intake of food and fluids with the goal of hastening death by a decisionally capable person who suffers intolerably from an incurable and progressive, or terminal illness. It has been a traditional means of dying in the home for generations and is often thought of as a ‘natural’ way of dying. While it is rarely a suffering person’s ‘first choice’ to hasten death, it often is the only legal means available to patient-controlled dying.

This course provides a clinical and legal overview of VSED, and the End of Life Choices New York's Dementia Directive to document VSED wishes in the case of advanced dementia. 

This course includes a replay of a recorded webinar with Judith Schwarz, PhD, RN. Dr. Schwarz is an expert on ethical issues relating to patient self-determination and informed end of life decision-making. She has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed professional journals. Judith is a nationally recognized expert on the option of voluntarily stopping eating and drinking (VSED) as a means for capacitated and suffering patients to control the circumstances and timing of death. She has spoken at local and state nursing conferences, and in 2014 she co-presented a workshop about VSED at the Management and Leadership Conference of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Program. She earned a PhD in nursing research from New York University, a MSN from Lehman College, and an RN from St. Luke’s School of Nursing.

Learning Objectives:

1. Discuss voluntarily stopping eating and drinking and how it can be legally used to achieve a peaceful death for those with terminal and/or advanced illness.

2. Describe the purpose and nature of the Dementia Advance Directive. 

Completion of this course counts as 1.5 contact hours for licensed NY social workers. 

Course participation involves watching a recorded presentation and completing a quiz. You must receive a score of at least 80% to pass the course, but may retake the quiz as needed. A certificate of completion will automatically be issued after completion of the course.

End of Life Choices New York, Inc. is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #SW-0464. 

Course curriculum

  • 1

    Video Presentation

    • Overview

    • Watch the Presentation

  • 2


    • Learning Assessment

  • 3

    Optional Feedback

    • Optional Feedback