How to Become Nurse Midwife
Known as the “mother of authentic midwifery,” Ina May Gaskin is a famous midwife who is a the founder and director of the Farm Midwifery Center in Tennessee. The Farm Midwifery Center specializes in prenatal care, support during labor and delivery, and postpartum supervision. This unique center is run by seven midwives and has helped countless women and babies enjoy a safe, pleasant, and responsive birthing experience. If you wish to make a positive difference in the lives of women and their children, like Ina May Gaskin and the Farm Midwifery Center, a career as a nurse midwife may be right for you.
Career Outlook for Nurse Midwives
|Nurse Midwife||National Average|
|Projected Job Growth||20.6%||7.4%|
Best States for Nurse Midwives
What is a Nurse Midwife?
A nurse midwife is a licensed health care professional who specializes in women’s reproductive health and childbirth. Nurse midwives attend births, conduct annual exams, counsel women, and prescribe medication. They must learn to use a number of advanced tools to perform their duties, including thermostats, forceps, blood pressure monitors, surgical scissors, lancets, and syringes. In most cases, these professionals work in either a home or a hospital setting.
Nurse midwives play a different role in the health care field than other types of nurses. While registered nurses treat and perform number of different conditions and procedures, nurse midwives focus their efforts on helping women and babies before, during and after the birthing process. Additionally, nurse midwives are actively involved in delivery, whereas labor and delivery nurses call in the doctor when it’s time to deliver a baby.
Nurse Midwife Skills
Step One: Earn Your Education
Nurse midwives must complete a graduate program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME). Such programs are only available to individuals who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing or a science-related field.
Certified nurse midwife programs (also known as CNM programs) usually involve courses such as family planning health care, newborn care, management of complications, clinical pharmacology and disease prevention. They also include a component where students complete clinical experience hours, which are required for licensing.
Upon completion of a certified nurse midwife program, a student usually earns a master’s degree. It typically takes at least 24 months to complete one of these programs.
Step Two: Earn Your Certification
Once a student has successfully completed a certified nurse midwife program, they may be eligible to sit for a certification exam. Here are some of the certifications that nurse midwives may want to consider earning in order to demonstrate their competence to potential clients and employers in the future.
- The American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) certification is valid for five years. This certification is known as the gold standard in midwifery certifications and is recognized in every state. Once a student who has earned a graduate degree from a CNM program completes an initial application and pays a $500 certification exam fee, they may choose to take the AMCB exam. This certification typically expires December 21st of the fifth year after the date it was issued.
- The Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) certification from the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM) requires knowledge about and experience in and out of hospital settings. It is intended for nurse midwives who would like to work in private home- or birth center-based environments. As of October 2017, 33 states regulate CPM certifications, which must be renewed every 3 years.
- The Certified Midwife (CM) certification is for a non-nursing professional who has received midwifery training. To qualify for this exam, an individual must hold at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college and a certification through the American College of Nurse Midwives. New York, Rhode Island and Maine are the only states to accept this certification.
Step Three: Continuing Education Requirements
Since the health care field is constantly evolving and new technologies, patient care trends, or medical breakthroughs can arise at any moment, continuing education is crucial for nurse midwives. By continuing their education, nurse midwives should have a much easier time keeping up with new procedures, drugs, techniques, pharmaceuticals and more.
Continuing education can also be important for meeting certain career- or certification-related requirements. Nurse midwives should check with their state so that they are aware of educational requirements they must comply with in order to continue practicing in the field.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accessed May 2018, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm#tab-4
- American Midwifery Certification Board, Accessed May 2018, https://www.amcbmidwife.org/
- O*Net Online, Accessed May 2018, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/29-1161.00