How to write an action plan with a nurse or nursing student
Intended for healthcare professionals
How to    

How to write an action plan with a nurse or nursing student

Simon Downs Teaching fellow and paramedic field lead, School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, England
Deanna Hodge Teaching fellow and lead for practice education, University of Surrey, Guildford, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To enhance your understanding of the purpose of an action plan to support a nursing student or nurse

  • To learn about the procedure for writing an action plan with a nursing student or nurse

  • To know which stakeholders to involve in the development of an action plan

Action plans are commonly used in nursing practice and nurse education to support nurses and nursing students to meet specific objectives, particularly if they face challenges in achieving the level of knowledge and/or skills required by their role or course. Action plans may be used, for example, with preregistration or post-registration nursing students during a placement or with registered nurses for whom there are concerns regarding their professional practice. In that context, an action plan is essentially a set of objectives that the nurse or student is asked to work towards.

• The objectives set in an action plan should be SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.

• An action plan should feature resources and activities that will support the person to achieve the objectives, as well as the evidence needed to demonstrate successful completion and a time frame.

• An action plan is one strategy that can be used to support nurses or nursing students to progress in their practice or learning.

‘How to’ articles can help to update your practice and ensure it remains evidence based. Apply this article to your practice. Reflect on and write a short account of:

• How this article might improve your practice when writing an action plan with a nurse or nursing student.

• How you could use this information to educate colleagues on writing an effective action plan with a nurse or nursing student.

Nursing Standard. 38, 2, 47-50. doi: 10.7748/ns.2022.e11839

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software



Conflict of interest

None declared

Downs S, Hodge D (2022) How to write an action plan with a nurse or nursing student. Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2022.e11839


Please note that information provided by Nursing Standard is not sufficient to make the reader competent to perform the task. All clinical skills should be formally assessed according to policy and procedures. It is the nurse’s responsibility to ensure their practice remains up to date and reflects the latest evidence

Published online: 08 August 2022

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