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Health Science | High School | Lesson Plans

4 Best History of Healthcare Activities for High School

December 16th, 2021 | 7 min. read

Brad Hummel

Brad Hummel

Coming from a family of educators, Brad knows both the joys and challenges of teaching well. Through his own teaching background, he’s experienced both firsthand. As a writer for iCEV, Brad’s goal is to help teachers empower their students by listening to educators’ concerns and creating content that answers their most pressing questions about career and technical education.

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If you’re teaching an introductory CTE health science course, such as Principles of Health Science, there’s a good chance that you are required to cover the history of healthcare to meet your course standards.

The history of medicine is valuable to learn, but you might have less experience when it comes to teaching this subject. Worse still, many of your students might not be inclined to enjoy history. If your presentations are dry and uninspiring, your students will risk missing valuable information they will need to prepare for assessments and certification tests, and you could fall short of your standards.

We’ve worked with many teachers who have needed to develop compelling ways to teach healthcare history. Thankfully, there are many useful strategies to keep students engaged when teaching the history of healthcare.

In this post, you’ll find four of the best history of healthcare activities for learners in your high school CTE program:

  1. Medical History Graveyard Activity from Melanie Leonard
  2. Health Occupations History of Healthcare Bundle from The Educators’ Aide
  3. History Healthcare Powerpoint from AnatomyTeach
  4. Comparison Study of Famous Figures in Medical History

After reading, you should have an idea of practical solutions to help make the history of healthcare come alive for your students.

1. Medical History Graveyard Activity from Melanie Leonard


Melanie Leonard is a teacher for the Grapeland Independent School District in Texas. She teaches several classes in the CTE health science pathway, including Principles of Health Science, one of the foundational classes for Texas students seeking health careers.

To help make the history of healthcare come alive, Melanie ironically has her students study the dead. In a macabre twist on the traditional historical timeline, Melanie instructs her students to create gravestones marking the lives and accomplishments of significant figures in the history of health science.

melanie-leonard-history-of-healthcare-graveyardIn particular, this activity has Grapeland ISD students:

  • Research a chosen figure listed in their textbook
  • Create a cemetery marker reflecting that figure. 
  • Assemble their “graveyard” in the hallway, where passersby can find more information regarding each figure by scanning a QR code. 

Since Melanie usually covers the history of healthcare around October, this project is perfect for Halloween!

If you’re looking for a free, seasonal history of healthcare timeline project with a digital component, try using Melanie’s idea in your classroom.

2. History of Healthcare Bundle from The Educators' Aide


Sometimes, one of the best ways to teach history is to use a variety of activities and examples to grab your learners’ attention.

The Educators’ Aide is a prominent provider of instructional resources through Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT), an online marketplace where educators can share, sell, and buy teaching materials. The Educators’ Aide offers various resources for health occupations, including this History of Healthcare Bundle.

The bundle combines twenty different projects, worksheets, and activities to help students understand the general history of medicine, along with some of its greatest figures. The materials are designed for grades 6-12 and include research exercises, presentation slides, task cards, review games, and more.

The Health Occupations History of Healthcare Bundle includes the following resources:

  • History of Healthcare Informational Article
  • History of Healthcare Word Search
  • Healthcare Hero Research
  • History of Healthcare Timeline Project
  • Healthcare in the 21st Century Project
  • Health Occupations Bingo Review Game
  • Health Occupations Fact - False - Fix It Task Cards
  • 12 Famous Folks Foldables - Biography Graphic Organizers
  • Digital History of Healthcare Interactive Notebook

In total, the bundle includes over 400 pages of resources, so it’s easy to find something exciting for your students. A particular highlight of the bundle is the twelve graphic organizers on “famous folks” in medical history that covers figures from Hippocrates to Marie Curie to Jonas Salk.

The Educators’ Aide provides excellent resources on the history of healthcare, but they aren’t free. You can buy each of the activities individually, usually for a couple of dollars each. The entire bundle is available for $25, a $20 savings compared to purchasing each activity separately. You can also access these resources through a TpT School Access subscription.

Overall, the Health Occupations History of Healthcare Bundle is perfect for teachers who envision using a relatively large number of resources but want to do so at a relatively modest price. If you’re looking to spend a good amount of time on healthcare history, these resources could be right for you.

3. History of Healthcare PowerPoint from AnatomyTeach


AnatomyTeach is another notable provider of CTE health science education materials. Through Teachers Pay Teachers, AnatomyTeach offers an encompassing History of Healthcare PowerPoint for instructors looking for a more exciting way to present this subject in an introductory health science course.

Since basic timelines included in some health science texts can be dull and uninteresting, a quick way to improve your history of healthcare lessons is to use an engaging PowerPoint presentation.

AnatomyTeach’s History of Healthcare presentation includes 45 slides detailing the complete history of global healthcare from antiquity to the 21st century. The presentation is up to date and even provides content on COVID-19. The lesson is intended to last three days, so teachers looking to fill a few days of lesson plans can find ample material in this presentation.

The History of Healthcare PowerPoint comes complete with:

  • Ready-to-use slides
  • Graphics and images
  • Significant figures in the history of healthcare
  • Prospects for the future of healthcare

These resources are intended for students grades 9-12 and up and are ideal for CTE programs.

Although this presentation is ready-to-use, it doesn’t come free. You can purchase the History of Healthcare PowerPoint from AnatomyTeach for $12 or receive access through TpT School Access.

Teachers willing to pay for prepared lessons will find plenty of material in this presentation. Still, instructors who want a wider variety of activities might want to consider a larger set of history of healthcare resources.

4. Comparison Study of Famous Figures in Medical History


The history of healthcare hasn’t always been a steady march of slow, minute developments over time. Rather, some of the greatest moments in the history of medicine have come as a result of sudden innovations by one of a few famous figures. These people have made remarkable contributions, and we often remember their work today because it has become foundational to our everyday lives and understanding of health science.

One easy--and free--activity that you can use to demonstrate the importance of the history of healthcare to your students is to have them conduct a comparison study of famous figures in medical history. This activity is easy and adaptable because you can have students work individually, in groups, or a combination of the two.

In order to get the most out of this activity: 

  • Have students select two or more important figures in medical history. These figures can come from your students’ own research, a list that you compile, or from a timeline in a health science textbook such as DHO Health Science.
  • When your students have chosen their historical figures, instruct them to research how each made unique contributions, defied conventional thinking, and moved forward the discipline of health science through research and discovery. You’ll also want learners to look for common themes that connect the people they chose to study.
  • Finally, have your students present their results to class in a way that is engaging and demonstrates their understanding of each figure and the commonalities between them.

Some easy ways students can present their research include:

  • A poster you can display in your classroom or hallway
  • A PowerPoint presentation that students can make to their class
  • A group discussion on the value of innovation in healthcare history

When students complete a comparative study on historical figures in health science, they’ll better appreciate how the work of others serves as the cornerstone of healthcare today. Best of all, this project is free and easy to integrate into your lessons.

Meet Your History of Healthcare Standards Today


Teaching the history of healthcare can be challenging for teachers who may have trouble keeping students interested in the material. If your instructional materials are bland, your students might not learn information important to working in healthcare.

Each one of these lesson resources can help your students understand the history of healthcare and help you meet the standards for your introductory health science course. Which one you choose will depend on the amount of money you have to spend, the types of resources you like to use, and the length of time you have to cover this topic.

However, if you are looking for a free lesson plan you can use right away, you can download this history of healthcare presentation.

This free resource includes slides covering health science from ancient times to the present day, and comes with graphics, text, images, and speaker notes to help your students get the most out of their history of healthcare lessons.

Download your history of healthcare presentation here:

Download Your Free History of Healthcare Presentation