'Carer and gatekeeper' - conflicting demands in nurses' experiences of telephone advisory services Millions of calls are made to the telephone advisory services in primary health care in Sweden. The patients seem happy with the advice and counselling they receive, but little has been written about nurses' experiences of performing telephone advisory services. Yet, the nurses are expected to be patient, sensitive and have a broad knowledge of medicine, nursing and pedagogy. The aim of this study was to describe how nurses experience the patient encounter when performing telephone advisory services. A strategic sample of five nurses were interviewed and asked to describe how they experienced the central aspects of the patient encounter by telephone. The transcribed interviews were analysed by the Empirical Phenomenological Psychological method. The nurses' experience of the patient encounter when performing telephone advisory services can be characterized in terms of the conflicting demands of being both carer and gatekeeper. The constituents of these conflicting demands were: reading between the lines while pressed for time; educating patients for self-care while fearful of misinterpreting the situation; encountering patients' satisfaction and dissatisfaction. The conflicting demands of being both professional carer and gatekeeper caused stress among the nurses. The organization of the telephone advisory services seems to hinder high-quality care.