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In this paper it is argued that the best way to cope with ‘the identity crisis’ in nursing is to develop a nursing personnel system. This should be on a planned basis rather than on an expediency basis which is usually the case and which has resulted in nursing being largely hospital- and illness-oriented.

A number of health personnel systems are described and illustrated and the dilemmas of the cure/care dichotomy in nursing are debated. The role of nursing in care is considered to be a major one, even though it is conceded that nursing has done nothing positive to demonstrate the differences or interrelationships between cure and care.

A rational nursing personnel system, consisting of two or more levels will, it is argued, be a useful tool which will assist health services to provide effective nursing care and also promote nursing leadership.