This paper addresses the concept of nurse performance, its measurement and its differentiation by programme of preparation It is evident from the research conducted to date that a variety of methodologies have been used to explore and compare nurse performance The process of direct observation, however, has been selected to a lesser degree, and it is argued that its potential has yet to be realized Further, in recognition of the methodological challenges inherent within research of this nature it is suggested that nurse performance should be explored from a variety of perspectives, using a multi-method research design Significantly, educational preparation as a potential discriminator of performance has been explored only to a limited extent and studies carried out in the United States predominate In view of recent nurse education changes in the United Kingdom and the introduction of Project 2000, empirical work comparing outcomes of the different courses of pre-registration preparation is urgently required The authors are currently engaged in a comparative study of outcomes of pre-registration nurse education programmes funded by the English National Board for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting This paper draws upon the literature reviewed to date