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This paper describes a conceptual model for the total patient care system, and indicates some of the considerations involved in selecting factors for—and in constructing—a model capable of quantifying the system. An example of the development of such a model for the nursing unit is presented, introducing the methodology of econometrics (interrelated systems of regression equations) to achieve this purpose. Both the variables representing the output of the system and those affecting such output were limited in number for the sake of clarity. This sample model provides additional understanding of the behavior of the nursing unit system, and demonstrates the possibilities for extending this approach to obtain an understanding of broader components of the patient care system.