When the head nurse who is pivotal in the nursing service administration of the hospital performs efficiently as a first-line manager, the effectiveness of the nursing unit, which includes the quality of nursing care, the job satisfaction of staff members, and the cohesiveness of staff members is increased. With this point of view in mind, the researcher carried out a study to determine the actual work (the content of the work, the work process, the role of the head nurse, the activity media, and the purpose of the work) of the head nurse in a university hospital in Korea. In addition, this study was also carried out for the purpose of preparing an ideal model for the work of the head nurse. The research subjects were 39 head nurses. This included all the head nurses in two university hospitals except those who were working in outpatient care, operating rooms, central supply, nursing administration, inservice education and emergency care. Data were collected from September 24th to October 21th, 1987 and April 4th to 12th, 1988. A work activity record on which the head nurse recorded directly in a chronological narrative form, was used as the research instrument. The 234 work activity records, 39 head nurse's continuous recording over 6 days(from Monday to Saturday) were collected and analysed. The results were as follows : 1. With regard to the work content for the total daily work of the head nurse, 45.2 % of the activities were managerial activities but 58.1 % of the head nurse' s time was spent in direct patient care. 2. With regard to the work process of the head nurse, specifically the location, the size and membership of groups contacted, the results were as follows : 1) Of the total daily work activities 92.4 % were carried out in the nursing unit and this occupied 84. 5 % of total daily work time. Direct patient care was generally performed on the nursing unit and managerial work was performed in other areas, 2) Of the total daily work activities, 73 % was with one or more persons and 51.2 % of total daily work time was spent in groups 3) A total of 51 persons, working in different capacities were contacted. These included 21 persons giving patient care, 19 persons working in nursing unit management, and 7 persons working in human resource management. 3. With regard to the head nurse's role in work activity, 53.3 % of total daily work activities involved the informational role, 26.9%, the interpersonal role and 19.9%, the decisional role. With regard to time, 57. 7% was spent in the informational role, 23.9%, in the interpersonal role and 18.3%, in the decisional role. When the head nurse performed managerial work, she gave nearly equal emphasis to all three roles when she gave direct patient care the informational role was increased. 4. With regard to the activity media, the number of unscheduled activities accounted for 27.1 % of the activities, scheduled activities, 24.3%, desk work activity, 22.1%, rounds, 12.5 % and telephone calls, made or received, 14.0%. In daily total work time managerial work related to desk work and scheduled activities were high, ranging from 29.8% to 29.9% but for direct patient care time, scheduled activities and unscheduled activities were high, ranging from 23.6 % to 35.3 %. 5. With regard to the purpose of the work performed, 54.4 % of the total daily work was concerned with the team and 414 % was concerned with the agency. The managerial work was concerned mainly with the team and the direct patient care was concerned mainly with the patient. When the frequency of an activity and time were compared no significant difference was found between the days for which the work was recorded for any of the variables : the work content, the work process, the work role, the activity media and purpose of the work. On the basis of this study the following are proposed as an ideal model for head nurse work in Korea : The managerial work should be increased to 70%. The decisional role activities should be increased to 40%. Twenty percent of the work activity should be allocated to agency, community and profession. It is believed that this model for the head nurse's work can contribute to guidelines for job description development. Finally, educational programs, organizational and structural devices, and administrative support are needed for the proper function of the head nurse in this proposed model.