What Is A Certified Nurse Midwife?
A certified nurse midwife is a nurse who specializes in the area of childbirth, pregnancy and family planning. Midwives are traditionally women who help a pregnant mother give birth when her time comes. To a large degree they are also concerned about women’s health in general and can to a certain degree treat patients with more general ailments and are not always restricted to this field all the time.
Nature Of The Work/Duties
A nurse midwife specifically deals with pregnant mothers and women giving birth while also being able to treat general ailments in adults. Specifically a certified nurse midwife can perform the following tasks and duties in a health care setting:
- Diagnose patients (usually women)
- Take the patient’s medical history
- Do a physical assessment of the patient
- Order necessary laboratory tests and procedures for the patient
- Outline care in a way that the patient can understand
- Fill prescriptions for various medications (Note: in certain states, a nurse midwife is not considered eligible to perform this task)
- Coordinate consultations and referrals when the patient needs to see someone with more advanced skills and experience
- Manage common illnesses in adults
One of the more common locations for certified nurse midwives is in a birthing center, as their primary goal is to assist in the delivery of babies. However there are also a number of other areas where you can find employment with a certified nurse midwife qualification. With this nursing specialty you will be able to work in a private practice. Because of the advanced nature of your skill set you could work by yourself in a private practice or alongside a doctor. Health maintenance organizations (HMOs), hospitals, and health departments also require the services of certified nurse midwives under certain conditions. These nurses are also needed in underserved populations in rural areas or inner-city settings where doctors are not always readily available to assist during birth and with giving advice regarding family planning methods.
To become a certified nurse midwife you need to meet the following requirements:
- A master’s degree in nursing from an accredited school is an essential requirement.
- In addition you need to hold a valid and current RN license to practice.
- Experience in a labor and delivery setting of about 1 year will be very helpful in order to get into most midwifery courses, so this is a good aim to reach for.
- You will need to obtain satisfactory scores on the GRE.
- You will need to obtain satisfactory scores on a statistics course.
- In order to enter a nurse midwife training program you will need to present letters of recommendation from a previous employer.
- You will also need to write a letter of motivation regarding why you want to enter a course of this kind.
To be a nurse midwife there are a number of personality traits that you may find helpful in order to make a success of this career. Many of these personality traits are very similar to the traits that you would need in any area of nursing. A naturally compassionate nature and a positive outlook towards children and babies will be essential. In addition you need to have a strong stomach for bodily fluids as you will encounter these when dealing with women’s health issuers and when overseeing the birth of a baby. The ability to combine a good balance of empathy and objectivity will also stand you in good stead as tragedies do happen in this line of work and you will need to be able to continue working regardless of this.
There are a number of educational requirements that you will need to meet in order to become a nurse midwife:
- You will need a basic nursing qualification in order to be licensed as an RN. This can be an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree.
- In addition you will need to return to school in order to earn a master’s degree in nursing. This is a fairly new requirement for nurses who want to specialize in midwifery, and it is aimed at ensuring that those who work in this area of nursing have sufficient qualifications to do so.
- After you have received the above degrees you will need to receive CNM designation through the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM). This will allow you to become certified.
In order to be a nurse midwife, one of the requirements is that you hold an RN license. To receive an RN license you must first enroll in an RN program that will make you eligible to write the NCLEX-RN exam, which is the national licensing examination for RN nurses. The program you do can result in a diploma in nursing, an associate’s degree in nursing, or a bachelor’s degree in nursing (remember that you will eventually need to receive a master’s degree in nursing to work as a certified nurse midwife). Completing the program will allow you to apply for licensure through your state board of nursing. Once your application is confirmed you may set a date to write the exam. Passing the exam earns you the license which must be renewed on a regular basis.
How To Become A Certified Nurse Midwife
Training, Advancement and Other Qualifications
There are two parts to a nurse midwife training program. The first part involves theory work. In the theory section of your training you will learn the following topics:
- Advanced Physiology/Pathophysiology
- Health and Social Policy
- Health Research
- Laboratory Medicine
- Management and Advanced Practice Nursing
- Management of the Antepartum, Intrapartum and Postpartum Periods
- Newborn Assessment and Care
The second part of your training will consist of clinical hands-on experience. This is an essential aspect of all nursing programs and cannot be neglected on your path to becoming a nurse midwife. In this section of your training you will observe and assist with procedures related to midwifery and put the theory knowledge learned in the first section of your studies into practice.
Source An Accredited Education Program
It is very important that the various degrees you earn throughout your training, from the general nursing degree to the master’s degree in midwifery, are all accredited through the appropriate bodies. If the program is not accredited you will waste your time and money. Current nurses are good and reliable sources of information regarding accredited programs. In addition your state board of nursing will have a list of programs that are accredited in your state, usually on their website. In addition your state board of nursing will also be able to provide you with the information you need regarding a specific program you are interested in. Although the schools themselves are expected to be open about this information, this is not always the best way to determine accreditation and any claims made by a school should be verified.
Earn Your Associate’s Degree
To get into the field of nursing you need to have an RN license, which can be earned through an associate’s degree (as long as you bear in mind that your ultimate goal is a master’s degree). To earn an associate’s degree you must:
- Make a list of the various schools in your area that offer programs like this and decide which of those schools suit your needs (remember to ensure that they are also accredited).
- Apply to all of the schools that you feel will be a good match. Remember that schools have different application procedures and eligibility requirements that you must adhere to.
- By completing the course and completing all of the course requirements accurately you will earn an associate’s degree and become a licensed RN.
Obtain Your Licensure
Once you have received the appropriate licensing to be a Registered Nurse through a degree program and the NCLEX-RN you need to go to earn your certification in the area of midwifery by:
- Completing a master’s degree that includes a certified nurse-midwifery (CNM) program or qualification.
- Sitting the exam offered by the American College of Nurse-Midwives.
Consequently there is no license, per se, for being a midwife, but certification is required. Without certification you will be unable to practice in this line of nursing as an advanced nurse practitioner and you will also not be eligible for the benefits, salary, and prestige that a nurse with this qualification holds. Consequently there are quite a few reasons in favor of earning this qualification and becoming certified as a midwife.
Online/Distance Education Programs
It is possible to complete the theoretical aspect of your nurse midwife training online through an accredited school that offers this program. Three universities that offer online training for nurses who want to specialize in midwifery are East Carolina University, The Frontier School, and Philadelphia University. However it is important to remember that you will be unable to complete the hands-on clinical aspect of your training through an online program. Consequently there is no such thing as a certified nurse midwife program that can be completed entirely online and any program claiming to provide this service should be treated with the deepest suspicion. In addition online training does not suit everyone and requires a high degree of self-motivation, despite the fact that it is considered, by most people, to be a more convenient option.
There are three primary reasons why nurse midwives with certification have an excellent job outlook:
- Firstly the nursing industry in general is growing at a rate that is faster than any other industry can claim.
- In addition there are increasing opportunities for nurses that have specialty training in a certain area of nursing.
- The most compelling reason is the fact that there is an increase in demand for midwives in underserved and rural areas where doctors are not necessarily affordable.
As certified nurse midwives also have general nurse training they are eligible for employment in areas of nursing that do not involves specialist qualifications. This broadens your employment outlook even further and means that this is one of the more stable nursing jobs to become involved in.
Certified nurse midwives earn on average $54,664 – $99,839 a year. When you consider the possibility for a bonus, which is usually between $0.00 and $9,136, as well as profit sharing, which is usually between $3,250 and $5,057, the total pay you could earn in this career is around $51,576 – $103,398 a year. Where you work also has an impact. Working in healthcare will earn you about $51,064 – $100,821, working in obstetrics; gynecology earns you around $62,000 – $104,760 a year, working in the health care services will result in a salary of about $51,777 – $100,895, working in a hospital will earn you around $55,000 – $103,578 a year, and working in Family Planning, Women and Children Healthcare Centers earns you an amount of about $69,759 – $87,823 a year. The cities that pay the highest salaries are Atlanta in Georgia, Denver in Colorado, Chicago in Illinois, and Boston in Massachusetts.
This is certainly a better paying prospect than simply being a regular RN, but it is not the specialty that pays the most. However, nurses that go into certified nurse midwifery do not do it for the money but rather because they feel a calling to serve in that area of the health care field. The educational path to becoming a certified nurse midwife is a fairly long one as you need a master’s degree, but in the long run the respect and independence that this qualification will earn you will be well worth the time and effort required.