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Nursing Care Plans have been used in the human medical field for a number of years and are now moving into use within the veterinary profession. Their two key benefits are, firstly, to ensure all aspects of care are addressed by the practice team and, secondly, to promote good case communication either between different nurses, vets and nurses, or even different clinics. In the author's experience, care plans are fundamental to delivering a good standard of in–patient care. This first article in a three–part series describes the author's personal approach in practice by looking at what we need to include in a care plan. It will be followed by two more dealing with how to use them and how to get started, along with case examples.