In recent times, the work and intentions of the National Health Workforce Taskforce (NHWT) have been occupying me considerably. As a nurse academic with responsibility for running a nursing programme, one would be foolish not to give this serious thought as it has the capacity to significantly change the nature of nursing as we know it. Recent pronouncements in various fora have made it clear that the NHWT sees Registered Nurses (RNs) as crucial players in the delivery of future health services. This is heartening. However, it is also clear, to me at least, that the role envisaged for the RN, by at least some in the Taskforce or by others commenting on its work, may not be that which many RN's currently ascribe to—to paraphrase Virginia Henderson ‘to do for patients that which they would do for themselves if they could, in such a way that maintains their dignity’ (1966, p. 15) and which one would hazard to guess, reflects the focus of most contemporary pre-registration nursing programmes. Instead, this new perspective on the RN role is more akin to that currently referred to as ‘the physicians assistant’.