In the United States, nurse midwives attend approximately 8% of births. In the UK and other countries, they attend up to two-thirds of births. The need for nurse-midwives is growing in the United States. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) reports that the projected growth rate for nurse-midwives in the United States will be 45% from 2020-2030.
For individuals who are passionate about caring for pregnant mothers and helping with the labor process, this is the perfect role. Nurse-midwives will play an important role in healthcare for years to come. In this post we will explore the following:
- What is a nurse-midwife?
- What does a nurse-midwife do?
- What are the different types of midwives?
- How do you become a nurse-midwife?
- How much do nurse-midwives earn?
What is a nurse-midwife?
A nurse-midwife is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who provides care for women throughout the reproductive process from preconception to delivery.
Though they specialize in the reproductive process, they are also equipped to handle primary care and other gynecological services for women as well.
What does a nurse-midwife do?
Nurse-midwives work mostly in hospitals within the United States, but some work in community clinics, birthing clinics, or directly with the patient in their homes.
Regardless of where they work, they have the same duties across the board.
The primary duties of nurse-midwives include:
- Provide reproductive assistance to women
- Assist women with gynecological issues
- Treat both men and women for sexually transmitted diseases
- Help teach new moms how to breastfeed and care for their babies
- Provide labor and delivery support to physicians
What are the different types of midwives?
There are five different types of midwives in practice within the United States. The majority of practicing midwives receive accreditation through the North American Registry of Midwives or the American College of Nurse-Midwives.
Certified Nurse-Midwife: A midwife who is also trained as a registered nurse. Nurse-midwives need a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master’s Degree in Midwifery. They receive certification from the American College of Nurse-Midwives.
Certified Midwife: A person who receives training in midwifery. They must have a graduate degree in midwifery. However, they are not a nurse. Every state licenses CNMs for independent practice, while not all states license CMs. Additionally, CMs receive certification from the American College of Nurse-Midwives.
Certified Professional Midwife: An individual who has met the certification requirements of the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM). To take the NARM exam, prospective CPMs can either take on an apprenticeship with a midwife and complete an Entry-Level Portfolio Evaluation Process or graduate from a midwifery program.
Direct-Entry Midwife: A person who mostly performs births at home and birthing centers. They are trained in many different ways including apprenticeship, self-study, midwifery school, or a college/university program. There isn’t official national certification for direct-entry midwives. Many direct-entry midwives are self-employed.
Lay Midwife: An individual who is unlicensed and uncertified. They are generally self-taught or undergo an apprenticeship.
How do you become a certified nurse-midwife?
For the purposes of this post, we are going to focus on how to become a certified nurse-midwife. The process may feel intimidating, so here’s a step-by-step guide.
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing
The first step toward becoming a certified nurse-midwife involves earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Most people earn their degree within four years, however, there are accelerated programs available to help individuals earn them sooner. It’s important to ensure that the school is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
Step 2: Become a registered nurse
To become an RN, one must take and pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Nurses must also apply for RN licensure in their state. The qualifications for licensure vary depending on the state. Most states do require that nurses have English proficiency, sound moral character, no felony record, and sound physical/mental health.
Step 3: Gain experience
Many graduate programs require nurses to have accumulated 1 to 2 years of experience working as registered nurses. While working as a registered nurse, it’s recommended that one find a specialization adjacent to midwifery. For example, working in the neonatal intensive care unit is a great opportunity for a prospective midwife.
Step 4: Graduate from an accredited MSN or DNP program
Once an RN has worked for a couple of years and gained the appropriate experience, they are ready to apply to a graduate program. One must choose a program that has a midwifery specialty. Most nursing programs require students to possess a bachelor’s degree in nursing for admittance. A master’s degree can take up to 3 years to complete, while a doctoral degree can take up to 4 years (both in addition to a BSN which can take up to 4 years). There are bridge programs that can help accelerate time spent in school:
- Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) – up to 8 years
BSN-to-DNP bridge program – about 3-4 years
MSN-to-DNP bridge program – 1-2 years
Step 5: Receive certification and licensure
After graduating from an accredited MSN or DNP program, the next step is obtaining certification and licensure. The American Midwifery Certification Board provides nurses with the CNM credential. Nurses must also receive licensure from the state they live in. Each state has different requirements for licensure.
How much do nurse-midwives earn?
Nurse-midwives earnings depend on a variety of factors such as location, experience, and education. However, according to the BLS, the mean annual wage for nurse midwives is $115,540 per year.
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