The views of Swedish nursing instructors of the concept of nursing are examined. The approach is an inductive one based on grounded theory, which is derived from phenomenology and sociological field research methods. The data were collected by selective sampling and by interviewing 14 teachers in two nursing schools (one small and one large) in Sweden. The analysis shows that the core of nursing can be described as helping the patients either to manage their daily living or to die with dignity, and it consists of three stages which continually interact. Three types of nursing emerged inside this process of help. The relationships between (1) the nurse and different kinds of the art of nursing, (2) the nurse and various kinds of assumptions concerning the patient, and (3) the nurse and different kinds of co-operation with other health care personnel groups define the different types of process of help. The theory of nursing practice generated here is one that can be employed to test nurse orientation in many contexts.