This article draws on the free-text commentaries from trans-Tasman studies that used the MISSCARE questionnaire to explore the reasons why nurses miss care. In this paper, we examine the idea that nurses perpetuate a self-effacing approach to care, at the expense of patient care and professional accountability, using what they describe as the art of nursing to frame their claims of both nursing care and missed nursing care. We use historical dialogue alongside a paradigmatic analysis to examine why nurses allow themselves to continue working within settings that put their professional/personal selves aside in an attempt to deliver care within constraints that make completing care an impossible task. The findings suggest an ambivalence and conflict confront nurses attempting to provide care within the New Public Management environment. This can be seen in the tensions that draw a line between care as an art, and care as a financial target, juxtaposed with the inherent clash of values arising from the way nursing care is conceptualised within two contradictory paradigms.