It is generally agreed by the nursing profession that the art and science of nursing can only be learnt in the direct delivery of patient care and that, in order to do this, students need to identify with a practitioner role-model in the clinical area. This research arose from the belief that nurse educationalists are failing to provide these learning opportunities for their students. The focus of the study was to identify factors in the nurse teacher's work role which mitigate against their teaching in the clinical area. The methodology was chosen in order to demonstrate the nurse teacher's conceptualization of her work role. In the first stage of the project this involved the repertory grid technique. From the results, a semantic differential questionnaire was built up and used for an attitude survey of a second sample of nurse teachers. The research samples consisted mainly of nurse tutors but a small group of both clinical teachers and senior tutors was included for comparison studies. Results showed that the main factors leading to a lack of clinical teaching by educational staff include lack of control and a sense of conflict, stress and anxiety in the ward-teaching situation, lack of peer support and an inability to plan ahead for such work. The most pervasive feature which emerged, however, was the felt lack of available time for clinical work vis-a-vis their other duties. This is discussed in terms of role strain. Differences in response between teacher grades were studied and showed that all the problems found appear to be greater among the nurse tutor group. This may be a consequence of a further finding that clinical teachers are more likely to make finer and more frequent distinctions between the aims and problems of ward- and school-based teaching.