This paper reports on the results of a previous investigation into the ward learning environment for student nurses and its relationship to quality of nursing The emotional aspects of caring associated with the nursing process emerged as an important component of their relationship The nursing process, introduced during the 1970s, is described as both a philosophy and work method As a philosophy, it promotes a people-centred rather than task-centred approach to patients and raises the profile of emotional care Hochschild's definition and analysis of emotional labour in the workplace is used as a conceptual means to understanding the content of nurses' emotional work It is also used to assess the extent to which the predominant ideologies of nursing, articulated through the nursing process, were applied in the selection and training of nurses to be emotional labourers It is concluded that the nursing process is more successful as an ideology and less in providing a knowledge base with which to inform training and support for managing complex feelings