This is the first of two papers which address aspects of the findings of a large scale study commissioned by the English National Board which set out to examine the impact of Project 2000 on perceptions of the philosophy and practice of nursing. The findings presented here suggest that there have been fundamental shifts in perceptions of the nature and discipline of nursing. Students and diplomates of the course perceive themselves as knowledgeable doers, with their practice well grounded in theory and research. They value the interpersonal skills teaching and place the patient firmly at the centre of care delivery, viewing the patient holistically and being prepared to be fierce patient advocates where necessary. It is difficult to determine the extent to which these shifts can be attributed to the Project 2000 course, although the Project 2000 approach to education appears to be an important factor.