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To consider commitment by the nurse requires reflection upon what is the unique and particular role and function of nursing in achieving optimum support for patients requiring the help of health care agencies.

Excellence in this role and function can only be judged by the quality of care actually delivered to patients. It is useless to boast of excellent teaching programmes, a first class nursing management structure or a flourishing nursing research unit if the standards of nursing practice do not directly reflect the contribution of such agencies.

In this paper the author considers the present, apparently subordinate role, of the clinical nurse and suggests that if nurses have a commitment to nursing then they must begin to re-establish the position of the clinical nurse as equal to that of her colleagues in other spheres of nursing. Possible ways in which this can be achieved are outlined together with the support that will be required from colleagues in nursing education, management and research.