The recent interest in wisdom in professional health care practice is explored in this article. Key features of wisdom are identified via consideration of certain classical, ancient and modern sources. Common themes are discussed in terms of their contribution to ‘clinical wisdom’ itself and this is reviewed against the nature of contemporary nursing education. The distinctive features of wisdom (recognition of contextual factors, the place of the person and timeliness) may enable their significance for practice to be promoted in more coherent ways in nursing education. Wisdom as practical knowledge (phronesis) is offered as a complementary perspective within the educational preparation and practice of students of nursing. Certain limitations within contemporary UK nursing education are identified that may inhibit development of clinical wisdom. These are: the modularization of programmes in higher education institutions, the division of pastoral and academic support and the relationship between theory and practice.