• Practice development is a widely used term within British nursing. However, there is a lack of consistency and clarity in the way that the term is used.
• A small-scale qualitative telephone interview study was therefore conceived to explore practitioners’ views of practice development.
• Qualitative telephone interviews were carried out with 26 nurses working in a range of settings and roles around the UK. Informants reported varying degrees of awareness of practice development roles and activities ranging from little awareness to being closely involved.
• Most informants seemed to place more emphasis on issues of personal development and educational aspects of practice development than is found in the literature.
• Practice development staff were seen as having a range of functions ranging from working with individual practitioners to the co-ordination of education and training within an organization. The credibility of practice development staff was closely related to their clinical experience and ability.