Celebrating America's Women Physicians

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Higher Education
Suggested Reading
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Lesson Plans

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Click on an age group to the left to access the corresponding lesson plan. Plans are designed to last between two to four class sessions and address age-relevant issues in health and medicine.The Handouts require the use of Adobe Acrobat PDF Viewer. Click the link to download Adobe Acrobat PDF Viewer.

Choosing a Career in Health
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There are two lessons in this group. The first lesson is a lab activity that illustrates the importance of hand washing as a way to prevent the spread disease. The second lesson includes discussion of various careers in the health field and allows students to explore careers utilizing various resources.

Time Needed
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2 class sessions, with additional time for student research

Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • describe the role of hand washing in prevention of disease transmission;
  • explore various careers in the health field, and;
  • describe a health career that is of interest to them, and explain why.


  1. Sink
  2. Soap
  3. Paper towels
  4. UV light
  5. Glo-Germ powder (see lesson plan for details)
  6. Overhead projector
  7. Butcher paper/flip chart
  8. Teacher Reference 1. Hand Washing Lab (PDF)
  9. Computer with Internet capability.
  10. Newspaper want ads (hard copy or on-line)
  11. Telephone book, yellow pages
  12. Blank index cards


Lesson 1:

  1. Tell students that they will be learning how to test the effectiveness of hand washing, in this case, the hand washing of food handlers.
  2. The following lab provides instructions for students to test for the presence of bacteria. Teacher Reference 1. Hand Washing Lab (PDF)
  3. When the lab has been completed, discuss the role of food handlers in the spread/transmission of disease. Students may be asked to share their food handling experience.
  4. Consider the scenario in which patrons of a local fast food restaurant became ill after eating at the restaurant. How could health officials determine the source of the infection? Was it caused by food handlers with unclean hands, or previously contaminated food?
  5. Discuss the types of health care professionals who would be called upon to solve this problem. Write the list on the butcher paper/flip chart.
  6. Ask students to suggest what should be done about this situation, whom they would call to help, what types of help is needed for the sick people and the restaurant, and how to prevent this from happening again at this restaurant.

Lesson 2:

  1. Begin this lesson by reviewing the list of health careers developed in the first lesson. Ask if there are any other types of health careers that they know of. The students may not know about careers such as data management, environmental health, safety, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, physical and psychological therapy, etc. Add these to the list.
  2. Ask students to pick one career from the list that might interest them. Assign each student the task of finding out as much about that field as they can, using a variety of sources. Make reference to the sources listed in the "Student Resources" section below.
  3. Tell students that their research should, at a minimum, include responses to the questions below:
    • What does the job involve on a daily basis?
    • What kind of education is required to work toward entering that field?
    • What kind of training is needed for the job and how long will it take?
    • What will it cost for training for the job?
    • How much does this career pay? (start-up to top)


Each student will write a two-page report about a career in the health field that is of interest to them. The report will include information about what kind of work is done, what level of education is needed for the job, levels of pay, and why this career is suitable to the student's personality, interests, capabilities, and personal goals.


National Science Education Standards:

  • Scientists conduct investigations for a wide variety of reasons. For example, they may wish to discover new aspects of the natural world, explain recently observed phenomena, or test the conclusions of prior investigations or the predictions of current theories.
  • The severity of disease symptoms is dependent on many factors, such as human resistance and the virulence of the disease-producing organism. Many diseases can be prevented, controlled, or cured. Some diseases, such as cancer, result from specific body dysfunctions and cannot be transmitted.
  • Individuals and teams have contributed and will continue to contribute to the scientific enterprise. Doing science or engineering can be as simple as an individual conducting field studies or as complex as hundreds of people working on a major scientific question or technological problem. Pursuing science as a career or as a hobby can be both fascinating and intellectually rewarding.

Health Education Standards:

  • Knows and uses health care terminology.
  • Understands the distinctions among the various levels of care.
  • Understands how technology is used in the health care industry
  • Understands the components of the health care delivery system.
  • Uses a variety of communication skills to interact with clients.

English Language Arts Standards:

  • Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.

Student Resources


  • Maria Crassas, Science Teacher, Francis Scott Key Middle School, Silver Spring, Maryland
  • Gillian Davis, Health Occupations Teacher, Benson High School, Portland, Oregon
  • Damian Kreske, Biology Teacher, Woodrow Wilson High School, Washington, DC