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This paper gives a brief description of a research project carried out to test the assumption that there is a relationship between a student nurse's description, on paper, of how she would care for a patient, and the actual observed behaviour. No relationship was found in more than two-thirds of subjects in 19 hospitals. The paper goes on to look at the possible reasons for this phenomenon and suggests alterations in the training programmes for nurses in England and Wales which could create a greater correlation between the theory and practice of nursing. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily of any organization.