Summary The first year (2003–2004) of a three year nationally funded project focused on completing a scoping exercise on the nature of practice education in five selected health care professions: Dietetics, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy and Radiography (www.practicebasedlearning.org).A survey questionnaire, focus groups and secondary sources were used to collect data. Profession specific contributors completed the analysis of results. Resulting case studies were combined to produce a cross professional overview of current issues in practice-based learning.The nursing case study identified areas of good practice such as; the mentorship model; the development of new support roles; and joint responsibility between Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) and Health Service areas for practice assessment.However, there were variations in the application of these areas of good practicethroughout the United Kingdom (UK). Issues included; an inadequate supply of qualifiedmentors; formal recognition of the mentor role; and lack of knowledge of therelative impact of the differing mentor preparation programmes.In comparing the five professions, all had statutory requirements regarding the nature of practice learning but each profession differed in how this was managed and organised. The need for formal preparation, recognition and reward for the mentor/practice educator role was recognised with collaborative working across the professions a recommendation in order to achieve national improvement in the quality of practice learning support for health care professions.