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The study is placed within the context of the Irish health care system, which has undergone tremendous change, at the dawn of the new millennium, in particular from the nursing management and leadership viewpoint.The aim of this study is to explore nurses' expectations of the content and delivery of a nursing management degree programme.This is an on-going action research study. Data has been collected using a focus group interview, questionnaire, document analysis and a reflective diary. Data was analysed using thematic analysis and SPSS as appropriate to qualitative and quantitative data respectively. To date two action research cycles are near completion and a total sample of 117 students have taken part in the study.Nurses commencing the programme were unsure of their education and training needs, as they had not yet taken on board the recommendations of the Irish Commission on Nursing (Government of Ireland 1998). The findings suggest that nurse managers may not know what they need to know in light of the many current changes taking place in the Irish health system. The introduction of personal development planning (PDP) is among new strategies taking place as part of the second action research cycle. PDP can help nurse managers to reflect on their current responsibilities and plan for their future career pathways.The findings are presented in the context of one institution. Action research, which nests comfortably with certain management styles, has proved suitable as a tool for developing and changing this programme. The need for university teachers to focus on management development skills as well as the transmission of management theory is supported.