For Educators

Illness and Treatment: Ethics and the World of Medicine – Background


Medical decision making is complex, wrought with personal, professional, societal, institutional, and, most of all, ethical implications. One tremendous challenge for medical professionals, policy makers, patients, and caregivers is negotiating the ethics of a situation, which can range from participating in a clinical trial to considering whether to prolong someone’s life. The choices are not easily made. In this lesson, students confront a number of medical circumstances that require close ethical analysis drawn from varied viewpoints.

Grade Level:

Grades 9 – 12

Time Allotment:

Time frames accompany each activity.

Subject Matter:

Health, Health Education, Science, Technology

Learning Objectives

As a result of completing the lesson, the students will:

  • discern ethical issues and concerns that emerge in the medical field
  • summarize the foundations/theories — their own and others’ — that shape individual, professional, and/or institutional “ethical” or “moral” positions
  • practice informed decision-making when presented with medical illness and treatment dilemmas that raise ethical concerns and/or arguments


Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning
Level IV (Grades 9-12)


    Standard 1: Knows the availability and effective use of health services, products, and information
    Standard 8: Knows essential concepts about the prevention and control of disease


    Standard 13: Understands the scientific enterprise


    Standard 6: Understands the nature and uses of different forms of technology

Thinking and Reasoning

    Standard 1: Understands and applies the basic principles of presenting an argument
    Standard 2: Understands and applies basic principles of logic and reasoning
    Standard 6: Applies decision-making techniques

This lesson was prepared by: Michele Israel