Since 2000, increasing numbers of Nepali nurses have crossed national borders to participate in the global healthcare market. The most common destination countries are the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand. In particular, educated middle-class women are attracted to nursing with the full support of their families. There have been profound changes in women's position in Nepali society. As a female only profession in Nepal, nursing provides an excellent focus on how and why these changes have occurred.

Based on a multi-sited ethnography, including in-depth interviews with nurses and their families, conducted in Nepal and the UK from 2006–2008, this article discusses the changing nursing profession within the broader context of gender dynamics. Between 2000 and 2008, around 1000 Nepali nurses migrated to the UK. International nurse migration hugely affects nurses' immediate family dynamics. This article illustrates how migrant nurses' husbands have to accept a compromised social position, from being family bread-winners in Nepal to dependent husbands in the UK.

Policy Implications
  • Since the late 1990s, a new women-migration phenomenon has emerged in Nepal. The Nepal government's current women migration policy has created a serious controversy, which requires urgent policy attention.
  • Because of British work permit regulations, Nepali nurses migrate to the UK on their own. Typically the UK government gives little consideration to how its international nurse recruitment practices and work permit policy affects migrants' family life. There is a need for a family-friendly immigration policy.
  • Female / nurse migration has a profound impact on nurses' families' lives in the UK. This area requires further enquiry.