Nursing Care Plans | Free Care Plan Examples for a Registered Nurses (RN) & Students

Nursing Care Plan Overview & Introduction: What Is a Care Plan in Nursing?

A nursing care plan is a part of the nursing process which outlines the plan of action that will be implemented during a patients’ medical care. LPNs (Licensed Practical Nurses) and Registered Nurses (RNs) often complete a care plan after a detailed assessment has been performed on the patients’ current medical condition and prior medical history. The nurse can then take action with the patient by fulfilling the care plan’s goals and objectives.

On this page, you will get some free sample care plans that you can use as examples to understand more about how they help nurses treat people. If you want to view our care plan database, make sure to visit our free care plans section.

When I was in nursing school I bought some books to help me with nursing care plans. Care plans take practice but once you catch on they are a piece of cake. Here are the books I recommend on using to help you with your nursing care plans. I believe they are the best books for nursing care plans. The first one is called “Nursing Care Planning Made Incredibly Easy!” It is like one of those “made for dummies” books lol. Here is a picture of it and you can find it on Amazon.com for less than $25.

free nursing care plans

Another great book is called “Nursing Care Plans: Guidelines for Individualizing Client Care Across the Life Span“. This book is excellent because it is universal for all areas in nursing for developing your care plans. This book is awesome for developing your care plans and is used by many nursing students.

book for nursing care plans

*See disclosure at the end of this article.

Care plans are occasionally used by other medical staff, such as doctors, Respiratory therapists, physical therapists, and more. However, they are most often used and associated with the field of nursing.

Thinking about going to Nursing School?

Are you contemplating  going to nursing school, or are you actually in nursing school right now?  Nursing school can be challenging, especially if you do not know what to expect. Here is a great guide by S. L. Page BSN, RN called “How to Pass Nursing School“. This book gives you detailed information about how to pass nursing school from beginning to end. S.L. Page, the creator of this website, complied all the information students what to know about nursing school into one easy to read guide. She gives in depth information on how to succeed in nursing school.

S.L. Page graduated from nursing school with honors and passed the NCLEX-RN on her first try. In this ebook, she reveals the strategies she used to help her succeed.

Here is what the book looks like:

how-to-pass-nursing-school-guide

Why Should Nurses Use Care Plans? Aren’t Care plans a Waste of Time?

Nursing care plan, free nursing care plans, ncp, nursing diagnosisCare plans play a very important part in the treatment of a patient, and can actually save time. By taking the initial time to complete a detailed care plan, the nurse will be able to create a specific line of treatment for the patient. This enables the nurse to provide focused care, without overlooking important steps. A strategic plan is always important when it comes to medical care, and care plans help nurses achieve a solid plan of action.

In addition, care plans can be easily revised to provide new outcomes or treatment plans if a patient’s condition changes. This flexibility helps the nurse maintain focus during potentially stressful situations. Since the patient’s information will be conveniently located within the care plan, this will save time and reduce the risk of misinformation or mistakes.

Care plans are also helpful during a patient’s discharge process. Nurses can review the care plan to see if the patient met the nursing outcome during their treatment, and can base the patient’s later discharge care based on those outcomes.

Video About Nursing Care Plans

Why Do Nursing Students Use Care Plans?

Nursing school professors often require nursing students to complete many care plans throughout their college career. The reason is simple: Care plans are important. Nursing students should thoroughly learn about care plans for the following reasons:

  1. It Instills critical thinking and analytical skills related to nursing. This will help future nurses evaluate and treat patients more efficiently.
  2. By completing care plans, it helps the nursing student successfully pass their board’s test (NCLEX), Hesi tests, and acquire their licensing.
  3. Since care plans are used in the nursing profession and in nursing care, it is vital that all nurses know how to complete them.

What’s the Difference Between Care Plans in Nursing School vs. Care Plans on the Job?


There are small differences between the care plans a nursing student may complete in college, and the care plans a nurse may complete in a nursing job setting. Some of these small differences may include the following:

Care Plans In Nursing School:

  • Very detailed and comprehensive. This is done so the nurse can become familiar with care plan development, processes, and outcomes, and terminology.
  • Often completed on a blank sheet of paper, and each part of the care plan must be completed manually (typed or hand written). This often requires an extensive amount of time and research to complete.
  • Often requires a NANDA Nursing Diagnosis book to help guide you when selecting a nursing diagnosis.

Care Plans on the Job:

  • Less detailed–Nurses are generally not required to list as many interventions, outcomes, or other values. Instead of having a comprehensive nursing diagnosis statement, it is usually a “focus” that you need to have.
  • Care plans are often created on pre-made templates that are “diagnosis-specific” for your patient. These templates often include small boxes or fields you can click or check. This greatly reduces the time it takes to complete.
  • Care plans are often completed and stored electronically in many medical settings. However, they are also sometimes printed on templates.

How to Create a Nursing Care Plan: The Process of Developing a Care Plan

When creating a care plan, nursing students often need to refer to a textbook on “Nursing Diagnosis” by NANDA. This text provides information on creating the nursing diagnosis for care plans. Once nurses become familiar with the book, they do not have to refer to it as often when creating care plans.

  • The first process in completing a care plan is the patient assessment. A nurse should review the patient’s medical history, diagnosis, lab values, medications, and familiarize themselves with the patient. This information is critical to creating an effective and accurate care plan.
  • The nurse should then create a main focus for the patient’s treatment. Nurses often use the “A, B, C’s” (airway, breathing, and circulation) during this focus.  Your focus should come from the NANDA Nursing Diagnosis text.
  • The nurse should then locate the focus in the NANDA book to help develop the “related to” and “as evidenced by” part of the nursing diagnosis statement.
  • The nurse should select some outcomes and interventions based on the nursing diagnosis. At least 3 outcomes should be selected for the patient. Outcomes need to be measurable, patient specific, and have a definite time-frame.
  • Intervention should also be measurable, patient-specific, and have parameters. The intervention should correlate with the outcomes. Often times, it is easier to develop the outcomes before the interventions.
  • Review the care plan to make sure all of the information is correct.
  • Implement the care plan into the nursing actions to provide care for the patient.
  • Re-evaluate the care plan as treatment continues. Make any revisions if necessary if the patient’s condition improves or worsens.

What Do Care Plans Look Like in Nursing School?

The care plans given in nursing school are often on a blank sheet of paper with grid-lines for each focus, treatment, and outcome. Nursing students must then manually complete each field using a very comprehensive set of terms and goals. Sometimes, nursing students are intimidated by the care plan process, and often feel overwhelmed when faced with their first care plan. However, they should keep in mind that many nursing students feel this way, and they will become much easier to complete over time.

It is important to note that often times, nursing care plans can have a slightly different appearance. The exact design or appearance of the care plan can vary from school to school. In addition, many hospitals or medical centers adopt their own unique care plan versions. So each basic care plan design can be totally different from another.

An example picture of a basic blank care plan can be found below:

Nursing Care Plan, Free Care Plan Example, Registered Nurse RN

Blank Care Plan

Free Care Plan Examples: List of Free Nursing Care Plans & Examples for Students & Registered Nurses

Students entering a college or nursing program are often intimidated by the idea of creating a care plan from scratch. They often wonder what a care plan looks like, and whether or not it is hard to create one.

For those students wondering about care plans, we have a few completed care plans below. Please note that these are for educational/example purposes only, and should never be used as a treatment option for a patient. Here is a list of care plans (more care plans will be added over time).

Note: For our current and complete care plan database, visit our free care plans section.

 

*Disclosure: The items recommended in this article are recommendations based on our own honest personal opinion and experience. We are an affiliate with Amazon.com, and when you buy the products recommended by us, you help support this site.

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