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How to Become a Nurse-Midwife

How to Become a Nurse-Midwife

If you want a profession that will improve the lives of others and make you feel like you are truly helping your community and making a difference, plus offers competitive employment and wages, then becoming a nurse-midwife is a great career option.

 

As a certified nurse midwife, you get to be part of one of the biggest events in a family’s life: childbirth. Nurse-midwives help moms through the excitement and fear of pregnancy, act as the family’s voice when the rest of their medical team may not understand the reason for their decisions, and be the support system that the family needs during such a stressful time.

 

If you are interested in furthering your nursing career, becoming a professional midwife or doula is one of the most rewarding jobs out there today. If you think you are ready to take the next steps in becoming a professional nurse-midwife. Here is a guide to everything you will need to know to become successful.

Nurse-Midwife Profession

A nurse midwife is a health care professional who specializes in the process of labor and delivery and women’s reproductive health. When a nurse-midwife is not delivering babies, they perform annual women’s health check-ups, routine care, and writing scripts for all of their patients. 

 

When a person thinks of a midwife, they might think of home birth. While some midwives participate or specialize in home birth, the reality of the situation is that most of their deliveries are in the hospitals alongside obstetricians. 

 

There is also much more to being an advanced practice registered nurse in midwifery than delivering babies. A nurse-midwife must also know the biology and anatomy of a woman and her reproductive system. This knowledge ensures that she is being cared for appropriately throughout the entire experience.

 

A nurse-midwife also needs to know and understand how to care for infants and their first few months of life. If the birth occurs at home, there is no one else available to handle the newborn as soon as they are born. The nurse-midwife checks and weighs the baby, takes vitals, and monitors for any problems. 

 

Once the baby is born, the nurse-midwife cares for the mother while she is recovering in the hospital. It is up to the midwife to make sure lab work comes back good, vitals are stable, and there is no sign of any health problems that could lead to trouble once the mom is sent home to care for her newest baby.

What is the Difference Between a Nurse-Midwife and an OBGYN

A nurse-midwife is a highly experienced professional who can work directly with women treating them throughout their entire pregnancy, delivering their babies, and following up with the aftercare. That said, Nurse Midwives are not trained or equipped with enough knowledge to perform emergency surgeries or C-sections. They are also not able to handle complicated pregnancies, such as delivering multiples or high-risk pregnancies.

 

Midwives and OBGYNs also differ in how they choose to care for their patients and their approach to birth. Whereas all OBGYNs will deliver babies in a hospital setting, Midwives do deliveries outside of the hospital, too, whether it be in the parent’s homes, a free-standing birthing clinic, or a tub provided by the hospital.

Best Education Path to Become Nurse Midwife

Here is a quick step-by-step guide on what it takes to become a certified nurse-midwife.

 

  1. Earn your BSN (Bachelors of Science in Nursing) from an accredited university
  2. Become a registered nurse by taking and passing the NCLEX-RN examination 
  3. Obtain your RN licensure (Registered Nurse) through your state of residence
  4. Find employment as an RN and work in a medical setting for at least two years working with women, pregnancies, and infants.)
  5. Apply and complete an MSN (Masters Degree in Science of Nursing) with a specialization in nurse-midwifery or by enrolling in a certified nurse midwife program
  6. Take the midwifery exam given by The American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB), to obtain the certification to practice.
  7. Obtain a state license in your state of residence to begin clinical practice
  8. Find employment in your state of residence 

 

It is a long road to becoming a professional and licensed nurse-midwife. It takes years of education and training, but for a good reason. Your education prepares you for any situation that may come up during your career.

Schooling and Certifications Required to Become a Nurse Midwife

To become a nurse-midwife, you must have at least a master’s degree and, in some cases, even a doctorate degree in nursing or a DNP. It takes a lot of time and education to successfully and safely deliver a baby and ensure the mother’s care is a top priority. 

 

To complete a master’s degree program in nurse-midwifery, you must first have your bachelor’s of science in nursing. If you do not hold a BSN, you can take a BSN to MSN program, which will help you earn both your undergraduate nursing degree and graduate degree without having to complete the BSN first. This approach will usually take about three to four years to complete. 

The time it takes to complete each nursing degree program depends a lot on your previous education, work experience, and the nursing school you choose to attend. If you choose a part-time CNM program, it will take much longer to complete than a full-time program. Of course, the program you choose has to fit with the rest of your life. If your dream is to become a nurse-midwife and you only have time to take a part-time CNM program program, it’s still the best way to help you achieve your dream.

 

There are four main steps into the process of becoming a certified nurse-midwife. You must already be a registered nurse and complete the nurse-midwifery masters program. Then, you have to pass the nurse-midwifery exam and apply for your nurse-midwifery license.

What Training is Required to Become a Certified Nurse-Midwife?

Before you can even qualify to take the nurse-midwife program, most schools require you to complete nursing degrees and work for at least two years as a registered nurse. This requirement is so that all students will already have had a few years in the field, training and working closely in every situation they may experience as a nurse-midwife. 

 

After you become a Registered Nurse, you should start looking for positions working in the health care settings that would be most beneficial to the nurse-midwife field, such as OB-GYN offices, hospital settings, labor, and delivery, etc.

 

Working closely with an experienced, professional practicing midwife is a great way to get hands-on experience and education from someone working in the field for a long time, and it can teach you certain things that you may not learn in a classroom setting.

Certification or Licensure Requirements

To legally practice as a certified nurse-midwife, you have to obtain a certification through the American Midwifery Certification Board, and your Midwifery licenses through the state.

 

When becoming a nurse-midwife, first, you have to take the nurse-midwifery certificate exam. This exam is given through the American Midwifery Certification Board. Health care experts developed this exam to ensure that all practicing nurse-midwives are knowledgeable in their area of expertise and capable of providing safe care to their patients. 

 

This certification exam tests nurses on their knowledge of how to care for each of their patients during diagnostic testing, normal and abnormal test results, proper care and treatment, maintaining professional and appropriate care throughout their job descriptions, and to determine if each student has the basic knowledge regarding every aspect of the job.

 

Once you have completed and passed your certification exams, you can register to get licensed through your state. You obtain your license by providing proof of all credentials your state requires that satisfy the board. Once you obtain your state licenses, you are then able to practice working as a nurse-midwife.

 

It is important to note that every nurse has to re-certify by taking recertification exams every few years, depending on the state where you hold your license.

 

There are fees associated with each exam and licensure, so you will want to look this information up for your state to be prepared for the cost.

Which Schools and Universities Offer Degree Programs to Become a Nurse-Midwife?

Many schools offer a nurse-midwife degree program. In this article, we will list the top 10 schools well known for their nurse midwife programs.

 

  1. George Washington University– This University offers a fast-track program that you can take full-time to earn your degree quicker than other traditional schools.
  2. James Madison University– At James Madison University, you will take half of your classes at James Madison and the other half at Shenandoah University. Both of these schools are top-rated for the areas they teach.
  3. Thomas Jefferson University– Here, you can take your classes in a hybrid format with most courses online and two in-person incentive classes. There is also the option of full-time or part-time classwork.
  4. University of Cincinnati– This University teaches a 57 credit hour nurse-midwife course that is fully remote learning, taught by experienced professional midwives and professors.
  5. Midwives College of Utah– You have the option of completing this program full-time in two years- or part-time taking four years. These classes are research-based education focusing on teaching students how to use past information to help them become successful.
  6. Old Dominion University– For this university, you will be taking your MSN courses for the first year at Old Dominion while finishing up your midwifery courses through Shenandoah University, which is notable for its amazing midwife program.
  7. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center– Texas Tech offers online and web-enhanced education. This 51-credit hour course uses technology to educate and teach students in a more modern way.
  8. Stony Brook School of Nursing– Once you complete all your core classroom work, Stony Brook will help you locate a suitable location to finish up your program with your clinical experience with professional working midwives and doctors.
  9. Suny Down State Health Science– Suny Health Science University makes the nurse-midwife program accommodating and beneficial for all Registered Nurses looking to earn their Master’s Degree in Midwifery. With their flexible classes, you can earn your certification while still working a full-time job.
  10. Oregon Health and Science Institute– US news and US World report has ranked Oregon Health and Science Institute #2 for the nation’s best nurse-midwifery program. Here you will learn from the experts everything you need to know for your future career.

 

These are ten great schools to consider when deciding where to go to become certified as a nurse-midwife, but they are not the only schools. Choose from numerous online programs and on-campus in states all across the country. 

What Courses or Classes are Required to Become a Midwife?

There is a lot of information that is required knowledge to become a practicing midwife. Most of this information you already know from your previous years of schooling and your on-the-job experience as a Registered Nurse. However, you will be required to learn some extra material that you may not be fully experienced in. 

 

That’s why it is important to take all of your classes seriously and focus on the information your professors are teaching. 

Midwifery Program Admissions Requirements

Before looking at each class you will be taking for the Nurse Midwife program, let’s discuss the basic admission requirements to get into the Midwife program. Remember, these are basic requirements and will vary based on each school and program.

 

  • A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree from an accredited university or college
  • An active registered nurse’s license in good standing
  • At least 2 years of RN work experience
  • Some schools require a GMAT score
  • Letters of recommendation, most schools prefer one letter from a previous professor and another from a previous employer where you worked as a nurse.
  • An essay that discusses your goals and the reasons why you want to be a midwife
  • At least one year of recent clinical nursing practice experience.

Nurse-Midwifery Program Curriculum

The specific courses you will be taking during the Nurse Midwife program will differ from school to school; however, for the most part, you will be learning the same information no matter which program you choose. 

 

Here is a list of classes you can expect to take while attending a Nurse Midwife program.

 

  Masters in Nurse Science Core Courses:

  • Evidence-Based Research and Theories for Nursing Practice
  • Ethical Concepts of Advanced Practice Nursing
  • Pharmacology for Advanced Practice Nursing
  • Pathophysiology for Advanced Nursing Practice
  • Physical Assessment for Advanced Nursing Practice
  • Introduction to Healthcare Disparities, Vulnerable Populations, and Epidemiology 
  • The Business of Advanced Nursing Practice 

 

Specialized Courses  for Nurse Midwife Program:

  • Reproductive health
  • Women’s mental, emotional, and behavioral health
  • Gynecological care
  • Prenatal health
  • Labor & birth
  • Postnatal health
  • Infant care
  • Primary Care of Women
  • Comprehensive Antepartal Care
  • Midwifery Practicum
  • Comprehensive Perinatal Care
  • Integrated Midwifery Program
  • Evidence-Based Practice Project
  • Advanced Nurse-Midwifery Role Development
  • Aging in the 21st Century
  • Health Promotion and Maintenance

 

  • Midwife Certification (American Midwifery Certification Board – AMCB)

 

For the first year of your master’s program, you will be taking core courses related to the Master’s Degree program in the Science of Nursing.  Your second year is based around the specialty and the information you need to know, especially for the midwife career. 

Roles and Responsibilities of a Nurse Midwife

The most common roles and responsibilities required of a Nurse Midwife is the gynecological care of their patients before, during, and after pregnancy and childbirth. A midwife manages the treatment plans for their pregnant patients, doing routine check-ups, bloodwork, examinations, guidance, etc. 

 

The primary focus of the nurse-midwife is pregnancy and childbirth, but that’s not all they do. Midwives also perform yearly exams, complete routine testing, educate about family planning, and perform breast cancer screenings. A midwife is responsible for the care of female patients and all gynecological aspects of their health.

Where Do Nurse-Midwives Work?

Midwives practice in many different types of healthcare settings. Nurse-Midwives work in places such as but not limited to;

  • Hospitals (private, public, military)
  • Doctors offices
  • Private Practices
  • Travel to Patients homes
  • Community health centers
  • Military Hospitals

 

Midwives have a much different approach to dealing with pregnancy and how they deliver babies when compared to many doctors and OB/GYNS, which is why some pregnant women choose to work with a nurse-midwife during pregnancy.

 

Nurse-midwives like to take a more hands-on and natural approach to the pregnancy experience, using less technology and more holistic techniques, including bathtub births, standing births, not as many ultrasounds, less medication, etc.

Qualities of a Good Nurse Midwife

To be a good nurse-midwife, you must possess care and compassion on top of many other qualities. A nurse-midwife is the closest person to a mother and her family throughout the entire pregnancy and childbirth process.

 

A good Nurse midwife needs to understand patients and tolerate high stressful situations while maintaining a cool professional tone and outlook. You manage the medical care of your patient, but you are also a support system during one of the biggest challenges of her life. 

 

Someone willing to put their feelings aside to maintain a calm and peaceful environment is essential for a good nurse-midwife.

What Skills and Qualities are Important for Nurse-Midwives?

To be a successful nurse-midwife, there are a basic set of skills and qualities you should possess. These things will ensure you can practice your career professionally and with enough empathy to help you connect with each patient and build an important level of trust and communication.

 

    • A caring attitude– You must be able to empathize with each patient and show them that you care and you are there to help them.
    • Desire to Understand your patient- Do your best to understand where each of your patient’s worries and questions is coming from and do your best to help them work through every issue.

 

  • Accept Patients with all types of Backgrounds- It is important to remember that you may not understand where everyone comes from or their traditions or beliefs. Try to be understanding and accepting of all types of backgrounds.
  • Mental Stability and Emotional Strength- Be the strong support system your patent needs during a hard time. Child-birth is challenging physically and mentally and families will at times need to know they have a strong person in their corner keeping it all together.
  • High level of observation- You will need to be able to recognize signs of distress or trouble before it can become a more serious problem or turn into a large medical concern. (observe not only mother and baby but also families that visit or other problems that may exist outside of the medical realm.)

 

    • Act on your instinct– Having the ability to trust yourself and your instinct is very important for all midwives. Feeling confident in acting before something can become problematic could be life-saving.

 

  • A high level of patience- Stress, pain, and fear can cause many emotions and undesirable behaviors. Holding yourself together and being patient is going to help everyone involved get through this time more easily.
  • A strong sense of maturity- Having a strong sense of maturity and being able to handle all situations responsibly is going to make you a much better midwife nurse.
  • Stepping up to the plate and taking responsibility for your actions- Understanding that even the professionals are allowed to make mistakes and it is okay to do so is a large part of helping others.

 

    • Remain calm in high-stress situations– Delivering babies is a high-stress situation, possibly one of the highest out there. Nothing makes a stressful situation worse than panicking and over-reacting.

 

  • Work under a large amount of pressure- As a midwife, you do not only have to answer to your patients and their families, but the doctors, nurses, and everyone else working around you. You need to be a team player and deal with the pressure that comes from every side of the job.
  • Offer to counsel and offer advice and support when it is indeed- Being a counselor to help families throughout medical trauma and situations is a huge part of being a midwife. All types of support and advice will be needed daily.
  • Listen to your patients- It is easy to get wrapped up at the moment and assume you know what is best for every situation, however, it is always important to listen to what your patient is telling you, they know their own body best.

 

  • Care for Newborns– You must be comfortable not only delivering the baby but also providing care to infants directly after birth. You have to be gentle and sensitive when handling newborns.

 

What is the Career Outlook For a Nurse-Midwife?

The need for nurse-midwives is on the fast track and is growing every year. The project outlook for a need in nurse-midwifery in the next 10 years is 45%. Which is must faster than the normal average projected career outlook. 

 

The reason for such a large need for nurse-midwives is due to the growth of our population’s need for ongoing health care and labor and delivery

 

If you are looking for a profession where you will have job availability and stability working as a nurse-midwife is a great career to get into.

 

It is projected that there will be at least 500 nurse-midwifery job openings throughout the United States every year for at least the next 10 years. You can look this information up at any time by visiting the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find which states are hiring and their projected need for midwives for years to come.

 

What is the Average Pay Rate for a Nurse Midwife?

As of 2020, the average pay rate for a nurse-midwife is $92,300 annually or $56.57 per hour. This amount can go up or down a bit, depending on where you live. 

 

Places like Minnesota ($121,980) and California ($120,500) pay much higher, whereas Oklahoma ($62,000) and Delaware ($64,800) pay much less.

To Sum Things Up

Becoming a certified midwife takes a lot of education, experience, and empathy. Not everyone can do it. If you believe you have what it takes to become a professional nurse-midwife, it can be an extremely rewarding career with great pay and many employment opportunities.

 

When weighing your options on whether or not this is a good fit for you, make sure you consider the classes you will have to go through, the exams you must pass, and the certifications you have to possess. This education and each of these steps will add up in time and money, and they are not something to take lightly. You will definitely have to plan in advance and even budget. You can also look into scholarships and grants to help you along the way.

 

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Degree Finder
RNtoBSNProgram.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.