This study explored the everyday experiences of a group of overseas qualified female nurses from non-English speaking backgrounds (NESB) entering the New South Wales health-care system. Migrant women from a variety of NESB participated by describing their experiences in the hospital environment as qualified nurses. Analysed data suggest that the experience of being a migrant woman has a profound effect on how these nurses construct nursing practice. National wealth and the dominant government ideologies operating in a nurse's country of qualification shape the practice of nurses. Nursing therefore is socially and culturally constructed, yet nurses seeking to practise in New South Wales (and other parts of Australia) are assessed against the Australian Nursing Council (Inc) competencies. Do these competencies support the current ideology of multiculturalism or do they reflect a monocultural view of the world? This paper raises questions concerning the use of competencies as an assessment tool for locally qualified and overseas qualified nurses.