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A comparative study was conducted of the professional socialization process of student nurses in three nurse education centres in South Wales Patterns and problem areas can be identified of relevance to issues in role theory and with practical implications for the more effective implementation of Project 2000 Three cohorts of students were interviewed using a semi-structured interview schedule whilst in the introductory block and at the end of the first year The teaching and ward staff directly involved in the socialization process were also interviewed so that their views could be compared with those of the students There were differences between the types of ward in the opportunities they offered for role modelling It was doubtful whether the three categories of students, teaching staff and ward staff were all employing a single conception of ‘the good nurse’ The student has to find her own pathway through the divergent and often conflicting values and philosophies of the teaching staff and those in authority on the wards It is recommended that a more unified approach be adopted to reduce the conflict which learners experience In accordance with Project 2000, the teaching staff should act as practitioners and thereby be perceived as a professional role model with clinical credibility