Aim This study aims at examining nurses’ work in somatic and psychiatric wards in a hospital in Sweden.
Background It is asked whether the humanistic ideology, emphasizing holistic care and human interaction more than practical skills, which has become widespread in the Swedish nursing education programmes, fits with the actual work that nurses carry out.
Method In this study, diaries on work activities were written during 5 days by 30 nurses.
Results It turned out that the nurses generally spend 38% of their working time with patients (nursing) and the remaining time on other activities.
Discussion There are certain differences between clinics and they can to some extent be explained by differences in work organization.
Conclusion The results in this piece of research indicate that a relatively small proportion of nurses’ working time is used for general and specific nursing. It should be asked whether or to what extent the humanistic and holistic perspective taught in nursing education will be utilized in practical nursing.