Effective Nursing Notes: Examples & Templates

Nursing notes serve as a vital component of patient health records, meticulously capturing various medical assessments conducted by nurses. These evaluations frequently encompass documentation of crucial details such as changes in a patient’s condition, vital signs, and the type of care administered. As a result, nursing notes offer an in-depth account of the medical examination process, as recorded by the attending nurse. To simplify this process, nursing notes templates are pre-designed forms that can be easily accessed online or downloaded for immediate use, enabling nurses to quickly input their assessment observations.


These notes are indispensable in facilitating effective communication among healthcare practitioners, as they supply pertinent data that informs exceptional treatment and healthcare delivery. By utilizing these pre-designed templates, nurses can eliminate the laborious and time-consuming task of creating nursing notes from scratch, allowing them to focus on providing optimal patient care.

What Should be Included In a Nursing Notes Template

Efficient documentation is crucial in nursing practice, as it ensures the continuity of care and fosters seamless communication among healthcare professionals. Pre-designed nursing notes templates can streamline the process, allowing nurses to focus on patient care rather than paperwork. However, a template must include certain critical elements to be truly effective. This article will outline the essential components that should be incorporated into a nursing notes template to promote comprehensive and accurate documentation.

  • Patient Demographics: An effective nursing notes template should begin with a section for patient demographics, including the patient’s name, date of birth, age, gender, medical record number, and admission date. This information helps healthcare providers quickly identify the patient and provides context for the assessment findings.
  • Chief Complaint or Reason for Visit: The template should have a dedicated section to document the patient’s chief complaint or the primary reason for their visit. This section provides a concise summary of the patient’s presenting problem, which guides the nurse’s assessment and subsequent care planning.
  • Vital Signs and Measurements: A comprehensive nursing notes template must include a section to record vital signs such as temperature, pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and oxygen saturation. Additionally, it should provide space for documenting other relevant measurements, such as height, weight, and pain levels.
  • Head-to-Toe Physical Assessment: The template should facilitate a thorough head-to-toe physical assessment by providing distinct sections for each body system. These sections can include the integumentary, respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, musculoskeletal, and neurological systems. Space for documenting the patient’s general appearance and mental status should also be provided.
  • Medication Administration and Response: An essential component of a nursing notes template is a section for recording administered medications, including the drug name, dosage, route, and time. Additionally, the template should provide space for documenting the patient’s response to the medication and any side effects observed.
  • Nursing Interventions and Patient Education: The template should include a section to document nursing interventions performed, such as wound care, IV insertion, or catheter placement. Moreover, it should provide space to record patient education topics discussed, the teaching method used, and the patient’s understanding or questions.
  • Plan of Care and Progress Notes: A well-designed nursing notes template should have a dedicated section for documenting the patient’s plan of care, including ongoing assessments, treatments, and referrals to other healthcare professionals. Furthermore, space for progress notes should be provided to record any significant changes in the patient’s condition, response to interventions, or updates to the plan of care.

Tips for Crafting Exceptional Nursing Notes

Maintaining clear, accurate, and comprehensive nursing notes is crucial for effective communication among healthcare practitioners and ensuring optimal patient care. To enhance the quality of your nursing notes, consider these key tips and best practices:

  • Adhere to a Consistent Format: Utilize a consistent format aligned with your healthcare system’s standards to ensure easy comprehension by other healthcare professionals. A uniform approach enables seamless collaboration and minimizes the risk of misunderstandings.
  • Prioritize Timely Writing: Complete your nursing notes promptly, ideally within 12 to 24 hours after the assessment, to minimize the possibility of forgetting crucial details. Aim to document your observations during the medical evaluation, as the information will be fresh in your memory.
  • Ensure Legibility: Write clearly and neatly, ensuring that your nursing notes are well-organized and easily readable by other healthcare providers. Legible documentation promotes efficient communication and prevents errors due to misinterpretation.
  • Keep Notes Concise and Relevant: Nursing notes should be succinct and focused, enabling quick review by other healthcare professionals. Avoid lengthy, unnecessary, and irrelevant information unrelated to the patient’s current health condition.
  • Minimize Abbreviations: Refrain from using abbreviations, except for universally recognized terms, to avoid confusion or misinterpretation. Different facilities may use varying abbreviations, which can lead to complications in the treatment process.
  • Document All Communications: Record every relevant detail regarding the patient’s health, including the sources of information and their names for future reference. This comprehensive documentation ensures that all pertinent data is readily available for other healthcare professionals.
  • Use Objective Language: Stick to objective descriptions of your observations, avoiding subjective or biased language. This practice maintains professionalism and helps other healthcare providers understand the patient’s condition without personal opinions or assumptions.
  • Verify and Double-check: Before finalizing your nursing notes, double-check your entries for accuracy and completeness. Ensure that all information is correct and up-to-date, as inaccurate documentation can adversely impact patient care.
  • Maintain Confidentiality: Respect patient privacy and follow your healthcare facility’s guidelines for maintaining the confidentiality of patient records. This adherence to ethical standards protects both patients and healthcare professionals.

By implementing these tips and best practices, you can create exceptional nursing notes that foster effective communication among healthcare professionals, ultimately contributing to the delivery of high-quality patient care.

How to Write Nurses Notes (Step-by-Step)

Nurses notes are an essential component of patient care and play a critical role in the healthcare process. They provide a comprehensive and accurate record of a patient’s condition, treatment, and progress. Follow these steps to write effective nurses notes:

  1. Understand the Purpose

    Recognize the importance of nurses notes in the healthcare process. They are crucial for communication among healthcare providers, legal documentation, and facilitating care planning and evaluation.

  2. Familiarize Yourself with Your Institution’s Guidelines

    Each healthcare facility may have its guidelines, policies, and protocols for writing nurses notes. Understand and adhere to these guidelines to ensure consistency and accuracy.

  3. Choose the Appropriate Format

    There are several formats for writing nurses notes, such as SOAP (Subjective, Objective, Assessment, and Plan), PIE (Problem, Intervention, and Evaluation), or DAR (Data, Action, and Response). Determine the most suitable format for your institution and the specific patient situation.

  4. Write Legibly and Use Concise Language

    Ensure that your handwriting is clear and legible, and use concise, objective language to convey your observations and actions. Avoid using unnecessary jargon, abbreviations, or slang.

  5. Be Objective and Factual

    Document your observations and assessments in an objective and factual manner. Refrain from using personal opinions or assumptions. Be specific and descriptive about the patient’s condition, behavior, or symptoms.

  6. Incorporate Subjective Information

    Include the patient’s verbalized concerns, complaints, or expressions of feelings. Use quotations to capture the patient’s words accurately.

  7. Record Objective Data

    Objective data should consist of vital signs, physical examination findings, and any diagnostic test results. Be accurate and thorough when documenting this information.

  8. Document Assessment and Plan

    Based on your subjective and objective findings, provide an assessment of the patient’s condition and develop a care plan accordingly. Record any interventions performed or initiated and the rationale behind them.

  9. Evaluate and Document Patient Response

    Monitor the patient’s response to interventions and document their progress or any changes in their condition. Adjust the care plan as necessary and document any modifications.

  10. Record Date, Time, and Signature

    Ensure that each entry in the nurses notes includes the date and time, as well as your full name, credentials, and signature. This provides accountability and verifies the accuracy of the information.

  11. Maintain Confidentiality and Security

    Protect the patient’s privacy and maintain the confidentiality of their personal and medical information. Follow your institution’s guidelines for handling and storing patient records.

How Nursing Note Examples Empower Your Practice

Nursing notes are an integral part of the healthcare system, as they serve as a vital communication tool among healthcare providers and a record of patient care. A well-documented nursing note can enhance patient safety, support clinical decision-making, and ensure continuity of care. However, creating comprehensive, accurate, and concise nursing notes can be challenging, especially for novice nurses. This is where nursing note examples come to the rescue. In this article, we will explore how nursing note examples can help you improve your documentation skills and elevate your nursing practice.

Understanding the fundamentals of nursing notes

Nursing note examples can provide you with a clear understanding of the essential components of nursing documentation. By examining these examples, you will gain insight into the structure, content, and language used in professional nursing notes. You can use this knowledge to create accurate, objective, and relevant documentation that adheres to established guidelines and standards.

Enhancing clinical decision-making

Well-written nursing note examples can demonstrate how to effectively communicate clinical observations, patient needs, and nursing interventions. By studying these examples, you can learn how to present information in a logical, organized, and concise manner. This will help you to develop critical thinking skills, support your clinical decision-making, and facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration.

Minimizing errors and improving patient safety

Nursing note examples can help you identify common documentation errors and omissions, such as incomplete or vague descriptions, inconsistent terminology, and lack of patient-specific information. By learning from these examples, you can avoid making similar mistakes in your own nursing notes, thereby reducing the risk of miscommunication and improving patient safety.

Enhancing professionalism and legal protection

In the healthcare setting, nursing notes serve not only as a communication tool but also as legal documentation. Nursing note examples can help you understand the importance of accurate, complete, and timely documentation, which is crucial for protecting both yourself and your patients in the event of legal proceedings. By studying these examples, you can learn how to create defensible documentation that demonstrates your professional competence and adherence to standards of care.

Streamlining the learning process

Nursing note examples can be particularly beneficial for nursing students and newly graduated nurses, as they offer a practical way to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and real-world application. By analyzing these examples, you can gain valuable insights into the documentation process and quickly develop the skills needed to create effective nursing notes in a clinical setting.

Nursing note examples are a valuable resource for nurses at all levels of experience, offering insights and guidance to improve documentation skills and enhance patient care. By studying these examples, you can learn how to create accurate, concise, and relevant nursing notes that support clinical decision-making, facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration, and protect both yourself and your patients legally. Embracing the power of nursing note examples can help you elevate your nursing practice and contribute to better patient outcomes.

Nursing Notes Examples

Reviewing nursing note examples can be an incredibly helpful exercise for both novice and experienced nurses alike. By examining real-world examples, you can gain a better understanding of how to structure and write clear, concise, and comprehensive notes. Some common types of nursing notes examples include admission notes, progress notes, and SOAP notes. Familiarizing yourself with these various examples can enhance your documentation skills, ultimately contributing to improved communication among healthcare providers and overall patient care.

Nursing Notes Template

SubjectivePatient’s reported symptoms and experiences[Patient’s subjective complaints and concerns]
Relevant medical, family, and social history[Patient’s medical, family, and social history]
Patient’s concerns or questions[Patient’s questions or concerns]
ObjectiveVital signs and physical assessment findings[Vital signs and physical assessment findings]
Results of diagnostic tests or lab work[Diagnostic test results and lab work]
Observations of patient behavior or appearance[Patient’s appearance and behavior]
AssessmentAnalysis of patient’s condition and needs[Assessment of patient’s condition and needs]
Potential problems or complications[Potential problems or complications]
PlanInterventions to address patient’s needs[Interventions to address patient’s needs]
Patient education or referrals[Patient education or referrals as needed]
Evaluation and follow-up[Evaluation and follow-up plan]

Nursing Notes Example

SubjectivePatient’s reported symptoms and experiencesPatient states they are experiencing shortness of breath and rates pain as 6/10.
Relevant medical, family, and social historyPatient has a history of asthma and a family history of hypertension.
Patient’s concerns or questionsPatient expresses concerns about managing their asthma and asks about treatment options.
ObjectiveVital signs and physical assessment findingsBP: 135/85 mmHg, HR: 88 bpm, RR: 22 breaths/min, SpO2: 95%, Temp: 98.6°F (37°C)
Results of diagnostic tests or lab workChest X-ray: no infiltrates or consolidation; ABG: pH 7.42, PaCO2 37 mmHg, PaO2 88 mmHg
Observations of patient behavior or appearancePatient appears anxious, uses accessory muscles to breathe, and has audible wheezing.
AssessmentAnalysis of patient’s condition and needsPatient experiencing an asthma exacerbation with moderate respiratory distress.
Potential problems or complicationsPotential risks include worsening respiratory distress and hypoxia.
PlanInterventions to address patient’s needsAdminister prescribed short-acting bronchodilator via nebulizer; monitor vital signs.
Patient education or referralsEducate patient on proper inhaler technique and self-management of asthma symptoms.
Evaluation and follow-upReassess patient’s respiratory status and vital signs after treatment; notify provider if no improvement or worsening occurs.

Soap Note Example – Nurse Practitioner

SubjectiveChief Complaint (CC): Brief statement of the patient’s main concern or reason for the visit. Example: “I have been experiencing a persistent cough for the last two weeks.”

History of Present Illness (HPI): A detailed description of the patient’s symptoms, onset, duration, severity, context, modifying factors, and associated signs and symptoms. Example: Patient reports a dry, non-productive cough that started gradually two weeks ago. The cough is worse at night, and there is no relief with over-the-counter cough suppressants. The patient denies fever, chills, chest pain, or shortness of breath.

Past Medical History (PMH): Summary of the patient’s relevant medical history, including chronic conditions, surgeries, allergies, and medications. Example: Asthma, seasonal allergies; Appendectomy (2018); Allergic to penicillin; Currently taking montelukast 10 mg daily and fluticasone/salmeterol inhaler.

Social History (SH): Information about the patient’s lifestyle, occupation, and living situation. Example: Non-smoker, occasional alcohol use, works as a teacher, lives with spouse and two children.

Family History (FH): Relevant health information about the patient’s immediate family. Example: Mother with asthma, father with hypertension, sibling with type 2 diabetes.
ObjectiveVital Signs: Blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature, and oxygen saturation. Example: BP 120/80 mmHg, HR 75 bpm, RR 18 breaths/min, Temp 98.6°F (37°C), SpO2 98% on room air.

Physical Exam: Documentation of the physical examination, focusing on the relevant body systems. Example: General appearance: Patient is alert and oriented, in no apparent distress. HEENT: Pupils equal, round, and reactive to light. Nasal mucosa is erythematous and swollen. No discharge. Throat is clear without exudate. Lungs: Clear to auscultation bilaterally, no wheezing or crackles. Heart: Regular rate and rhythm, no murmurs. Skin: No rashes or lesions.
AssessmentDiagnosis/Problem List: List of the patient’s current medical problems, including any new diagnoses made during the visit. Example: 1. Acute bronchitis 2. Asthma, stable 3. Seasonal allergies

Supporting Data: Brief summary of the subjective and objective data that support the assessment. Example: Persistent dry cough, no fever or other signs of infection, clear lung sounds, and history of asthma and seasonal allergies.
PlanDiagnostic Tests: Any additional tests or imaging needed to further evaluate the patient’s condition. Example: Chest X-ray to rule out pneumonia.

Treatment: Medications, interventions, or referrals to address the patient’s problems. Example: Prescribe guaifenesin and dextromethorphan syrup for cough, encourage increased fluid intake, and recommend a follow-up appointment in one week if symptoms do not improve.

Patient Education: Information provided to the patient about their condition, medications, and self-care. Example: Review proper inhaler technique, discuss triggers for asthma, and explain the importance of consistent allergy medication use

Nursing Admission Notes Example

General Information

Patient Name: Age: Sex: Date of Admission: Room Number:
Kevin Mickel55Male03/30/2023101

Vital Signs

Vital SignResultNormal Range
Temperature100.5 F97.8 – 99.1 F
Heart Rate92 bpm60 – 100 bpm
Respiratory Rate20 breaths/min12 – 20 breaths/min
Blood Pressure120/78 mmHg90/60 – 120/80 mmHg
Oxygen Saturation95%95 – 100%



Medical History

Medical ConditionDate of DiagnosisCurrent Status
Hypertension2008Well-controlled with medication
Type 2 Diabetes2010Requires insulin injections
Arthritis2015Occasional joint pain, managed with NSAIDs

Current Medications

Medication NameDosageRouteFrequency
Metformin1000mgOralTwice daily
Lisinopril20mgOralOnce daily
Insulin Glargine20 unitsSubcutaneous injectionAt bedtime

Assessment Findings

Body SystemFindings
CardiovascularRegular rhythm, no murmurs or gallops. Capillary refill time < 2 sec.
RespiratoryClear breath sounds bilaterally. No cough or sputum production.
GastrointestinalAbdomen soft, non-tender. Bowel sounds present in all four quadrants. No nausea or vomiting.
MusculoskeletalFull range of motion in all extremities. No edema or deformities.
NeurologicalAlert and oriented to person, place, and time. No focal neurological deficits.

Plan of Care

Type 2 DiabetesMonitor blood glucose levels, administer insulin as ordered, educate patient on diet and exerciseBlood glucose levels within normal range, patient able to demonstrate proper insulin administration and understanding of dietary recommendations.
HypertensionMonitor blood pressure, administer Lisinopril as ordered, encourage patient to limit sodium intakeBlood pressure within normal range, patient able to articulate understanding of sodium restriction.
ArthritisAdminister NSAIDs as ordered, monitor for adverse effectsPatient reports decreased joint pain, no adverse effects noted.

Discharge Planning

Discharge InstructionsFollow-up AppointmentsHome Care Needs
Continue medication regimen, follow up with primary care physician in 2 weeks, monitor blood glucose and blood pressure at homeFollow-up with endocrinologist in 4 weeks, make appointment with rheumatologistNo home care needs identified at this time.

Nursing Progress Notes Example

Patient Information

Patient Name: Kevin Mickel
Age: 55
Gender: Male
Admission Date: 03/01/2026
Room Number: 123

Vital Signs

Date and TimeTemperatureBlood PressureRespiratory RateHeart Rate
03/01/2023 8:00 AM98.6°F120/70 mmHg18 breaths/min80 beats/min
03/01/2023 4:00 PM99.2°F130/80 mmHg20 breaths/min84 beats/min
03/02/2023 8:00 AM98.8°F140/90 mmHg22 breaths/min88 beats/min


Date and TimeAssessmentFindingsInterventions
03/01/2023 8:00 AMInitial assessmentPatient is alert and oriented to person, place, and time. No complaints of pain. Lungs clear to auscultation. Abdomen soft and non-tender.None
03/01/2023 4:00 PMFollow-up assessmentPatient reports pain level of 5 out of 10. Administered 2 tablets of acetaminophen as ordered. Lungs clear to auscultation. Abdomen soft and non-tender.Administered medication as ordered.
03/02/2023 8:00 AMMorning assessmentPatient reports pain level of 3 out of 10. Lungs clear to auscultation. Abdomen soft and non-tender. Urinary catheter draining clear yellow urine.None

Plan of Care

Date and TimeGoalsInterventionsEvaluation
03/01/2023 8:00 AMAssess and monitor vital signs every 4 hours.Take temperature, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and heart rate readings every 4 hours.Vital signs within normal limits.
03/01/2023 4:00 PMManage pain.Administer acetaminophen as ordered.Patient reports pain level decreased to 3 out of 10.
03/02/2023 8:00 AMContinue to assess and monitor vital signs every 4 hours.Take temperature, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and heart rate readings every 4 hours.Vital signs within normal limits.

History of Nursing Notes

The history of nursing notes can be traced back to the origins of nursing as a profession. The practice of documenting patient care has evolved over time, influenced by various factors such as the development of nursing theories, advancements in healthcare, and changes in legal and ethical standards. Here’s an overview of the history of nursing notes:

  • Florence Nightingale’s influence: Widely considered the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale recognized the importance of documentation in nursing care during the Crimean War (1853-1856). She emphasized the need for accurate record-keeping to track patient progress, identify patterns, and improve care.
  • Emergence of nursing theories: In the mid-20th century, the development of nursing theories, such as Virginia Henderson’s Nursing Need Theory and Dorothea Orem’s Self-Care Deficit Theory, underscored the importance of systematic and accurate documentation in nursing practice.
  • Legal and ethical considerations: As nursing practice evolved and legal and ethical standards became more stringent, the importance of accurate and comprehensive nursing notes for protecting patient rights and safeguarding nurses from legal issues became more evident.
  • Advancements in healthcare: Technological advancements and increasing complexity in healthcare led to the development of new documentation methods, such as the problem-oriented medical record (POMR) and the nursing process (assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation, and evaluation), which further emphasized the importance of clear and accurate nursing notes.
  • Standardization and guidelines: Over time, various professional organizations, such as the American Nurses Association (ANA) and the Joint Commission, have established guidelines and standards for nursing documentation, promoting consistency and accuracy in nursing notes.
  • Electronic health records (EHRs): The widespread adoption of EHRs in the late 20th and early 21st centuries revolutionized nursing documentation, making it easier to maintain, access, and share patient records. This has led to increased efficiency, improved communication, and better patient outcomes.
  • Ongoing education and research: The importance of nursing documentation continues to be a focus of research, education, and professional development. Nursing schools, healthcare facilities, and professional organizations emphasize the need for ongoing training and education in nursing documentation best practices.


Nursing notes are an indispensable tool for healthcare professionals to ensure seamless communication, continuity of care, and accurate documentation. The examples and templates provided in this article serve as a valuable starting point for nurses to create clear, concise, and comprehensive notes that adhere to the standards of their respective institutions. As a nurse, mastering the art of writing effective nursing notes not only contributes to the overall quality of patient care, but also safeguards your professional integrity and bolsters your ability to work as part of a cohesive healthcare team. By utilizing these examples and templates as a foundation, you can further hone your skills in crafting accurate, relevant, and timely nursing notes that ultimately enhance the patient care experience.