The use of an illuminative approach to the national evaluation of the first 18 months of Project 2000 nurse and pre-registration midwifery education in Scotland has facilitated the generation of data about the contexts in which the new programmes function. The aim of this paper is to present some of the data generated from programme participants about the conditions students experience in practice-based learning experiences. The reported issues are direct or indirect effects of policy initiatives and service reforms. The current climate of change in health care provision has fostered a limited number of developments which are consistent with the aspirations of the new programmes and which offer highly valued learning experiences to students. More often however the reforms have served to frustrate the intent of the programmes to offer students experiences which are patient-centered, holistic-care and health oriented.