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The paper develops the theme that cues for appropriate changes in nursing care and organization can be detected from the immediate socio-political environment. Taking an historical perspective, changes in nursing care and organization are traced and the split between technology and care is discussed. A return to the model of hippocratic medicine is suggested by the introduction of a new role, that of the nurse practitioner. This model is considered in the light of nursing redefining its role vis-à-vis present day social needs of health care delivery systems.