Nurse midwives are registered nurses who specialize in helping mothers to be prepare emotionally and physically for labor, birthing and offering postpartum care to both moms and infants. They are advanced practice nurses who have undergone unbeatable skilled training and expertise in helping through the birthing process. As opposed to traditional midwives, nurse midwives are taught to be experts in both nursing and midwifery.

A certified nurse midwife (CNM) is an advanced practice nurse with advanced training in the delivery of babies and the provision of prenatal and postpartum care to new mothers. The demand for certified nurse midwives is great and the work very rewarding. Before you find out how to become a midwife and what are the certified nurse midwife education requirements, let me first show you what the career entails.

Midwife Responsibilities and Overview of Careers

This is an excellent time to become a certified nurse midwife as more and more women are opting for natural childbirth and alternatives to Western-oriented traditional birthing practices. Certified nurse midwives work in patient homes, hospitals, birthing clinics, and in private practice. Certified nurse midwives provide family planning and counseling with regard to birth control methods, as well as gynecological care and breast exams.


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They also perform preventative health screening such as pap smears, and in most states, CNMs are provided with prescriptive authority. A certified nurse midwife remains by the new mother’s side through labor and delivery keeping alert for any signs of complications that may require physician intervention.

During pregnancy, the certified nurse wife discusses birthing options depending on the mother’s circumstances, such as age and whether she has had prior children. The primary job of a CNM is patient education—discussing any unique health issues, what to expect during labor and delivery, risks that may be involved, breast feeding and caring for the newborn, along with a variety of other topics that are important to maintain the health of both mother and infant.

As per the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), some Certified Nurse Midwives participate in research and play an important role in developing and/or influencing health care policy in the field. As advanced practice nurses, certified nurse midwives may specialize in labor and delivery or focus on the provision of primary care of women to include gynecological care as well as the promotion of health and wellness.

Work environment for nurse midwives
Generally, nurse midwives are able to work independently in aiding the safe delivery of newborns. They can be placed in hospitals, birthing centers, and can also get into private practice. On other occasions, nurse midwives may be required to work in tandem with other health professionals like obstetricians, gynecologists, and surgeons if the birthing process gets some complications.

Remuneration packages for Nurse Midwives
Certified nurse midwives receive an attractive salary which ranges between $85,000 and $90,000 annually. Salary packages differ from state to state and according to the number of years of experience.

Certified Nurse Midwife Education Requirements and Training

As an advanced practice nurse, certified nurse midwives hold a Master of Science degree in nursing (MSN) with a focus on midwifery (labor and delivery), as well as gynecological care and women’s health. Most MSN program take two years to complete, although some certified midwife programs offer the option for part time or online study. Keep in mind that both these options can lengthen the time required to complete the master’s degree.

Nurse Midwife Coursework

Specific courses will vary between schools but the following represent typical courses you can anticipate taking as part of your certified midwife program:

  • Advanced Physiology/Pathophysiology
  • Human Genetics
  • Principles of  Gynecology
  • Health and Social Policy in the Delivery of Healthcare Services
  • Health Research and Statistics
  • Laboratory Medicine and Procedures
  • Management and Advanced Practice Nursing
  • Management of the Antepartum (pre-pregnancy), Intrapartum (pregnancy) and Postpartum (after birth) periods
  • Newborn Evaluation and Care/Breastfeeding
  • Clinical Pharmacology
    • Women’s Health and Primary Care
    • Reproductive Health and Care Management
    • Care of Newborn Assessment and Care
    • Pharmacology principles
    • Master programs also include a clinical training component during which you will gain hands-on experience in the care of pregnant women before, during and after delivery. Specific number of clinical training hours will vary by certified nurse midwife program.

While training to become a certified nurse midwife, you will be required to take courses that revolve around labor, child birth, postpartum and prenatal care. Such courses will include:

  • Women Healthcare topics/gynecology
  • Management and care of infants /newborn assessment and care
  • Advanced Practice Nursing skills and roles
  • Breastfeeding
  • Intrapartum/ postpartum support and care
  • Induction and management of labor
  • Reproductive health care management
  • Professional issues in midwifery and obstetrics
  • Postpartum pathology and physiology

In addition to these summed up course contents, nurse midwives need to undergo clinical practicum sessions. This ensures that the nurse-midwife gains hands on experience on the real maternity care environment.

Certified Nurse Midwife Program Accreditation

Attending an accredited program will ensure that you will be eligible for national certification. Accredited certified nurse midwife programs have met strict standards for nursing education as set by the Accreditation Commission of Midwifery Education (ACME). The U.S. Department of Education recognizes the ACME as the official accrediting agency for nurse midwife programs.

Certified Nurse Midwife Graduate School Prerequisites

As noted, you will need to have a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree to work as a certified nurse midwife. Graduate nurse midwife schools welcome applications from candidates with a variety of educational backgrounds. You can enter a midwife program with either a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN) or an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or with a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing area.

Admission requirements for those with a BSN include:

  • A bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited nursing school
  • Current and unrestricted registered nursing (RN) license
  • One year experience in labor and delivery
  • Satisfactory score on the Graduate Record examination (GRE)
  • Completion of at least one course in statistics with a satisfactory grade (typically a grade of “B” or higher)
  • Letters of recommendation from professors and/or work supervisors
  • A statement of purpose describing your interest in becoming a certified nurse midwife.

Many certified nurse midwife programs offer an RN-to-BSN “bridge program” for nurses with an associate’s degree in nursing and “direct entry” programs for students with a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing area. Admission requirements for both types of program differ from traditional admission policies.

Those who choose and RN-to-MSN bridge program will not need to take the GRE or have a bachelor’s degree. Students with a bachelor’s in a non-nursing field who choose the “direct entry” option will not need to have a nursing license.

Certification of Nurse Midwives

The American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) represents certified nurse-midwives. The ACNM also offers certification through the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). The American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) administers the national certification examination for nurse midwives. Eligible applicants must have a graduate degree from an accredited institution and be able to supply verification from the program director. Those who pass the examination are granted either the designation Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) or Certified Midwife (CM). It is necessary to recertify every five years. Certification is required in many states before a nurse can practice as a midwife.

Eligibility for the National Certification Examination:

  • Current and unrestricted registered nurse (RN) license (can be either a paper copy or Web-based verification).
  • Graduation from an MSN program accredited by the ACME

Exam Application Procedure

  • Candidates must pass the national certification examination within 24 months of obtaining completing the master’s program.
  • Application forms can be obtained on the Web site of the AMCB (www.amcbmidwife.org)
  • As per the AMCB “The application may be submitted online or by mail.  Required credentials (i.e., proof of licensure showing expiration date and active on the date of the examination as a U.S. Registered Nurse) and examination fee (if not submitted online) are to be mailed to:  AMCB  849 International Drive, Suite 205  Linthicum, MD 21090.”
  • The fee to take the national examination is $500. You may submit payment by credit card or personal check made payable to AMCB. The fee includes a $121 processing fee that is not refunded in the event your need to cancel or reschedule the exam.
  • AMCB has contracted with Applied Measurement Professionals (AMP) to administer the national certification exam. AMP maintains testing centers across the country with at least one in every state and the District of Columbia.
  • Candidates must schedule the exam directly with AMP. Online scheduling is available 24 hours a day seven days per week by visiting the Web site of the AMP (www.goamp.com)
  • Identification needed to gain admission to the testing site includes one piece of primary identification (e.g.  valid driver’s license or passport with signature) and one secondary identification which may be a social security card or student ID card.
  • The national certification exam consists of 175 multiple choice questions, including some prêt-test questions. The time limit to complete the exam is four hours.
  • You will receive a preliminary pass/fail score upon test completion, subject to review by the AMCB.
  • As per the AMCB Web site if you pass the certification exam, “The AMCB will mail your certification package to the address indicated on the examination application form within 8 weeks.  Within your certification package, you will receive one complimentary primary source verification.”  If you would prefer to have this verification sent to a different entity (i.e. State Board of Nursing, OBGYN practice, hospital), please indicate on your examination application where the verification should be directed.  This section is located on page 4 of the examination application.”

For full details regarding certification and the testing process, review the Candidate Handbook available on the AMCB web site (www.amcbmidwife.org).

Prerequisites to enroll for Nurse-midwife training
In order to practice as a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), you must be a holder of a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). The educational requirement for you to be admitted for nurse midwife training is a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing (BSN). On the other hand, you are required to produce an active license of a registered nurse before enrolling to any nurse-midwifery programs.

Some nursing schools will also ask the student to be give proof of satisfactory GRE scores as part of the qualification process. Aspiring Nurse-midwife students can also join midwifery training if they hold degrees in other non-nursing degree programs. In this case, they are referred to as Certified Midwives (CMs).

Certified Nurse Midwife versus Certified Midwife

It is takes a far less period for students who are joining midwifery schools from other nursing professions like RNs to finish their training. This is because; there is lot of exemption from basic foundational nursing courses.  This route is usually observed in RN to MSN students.

Students who have no prior experience in nursing must get direct entry into midwifery in order to become certified midwives. The entrance requirements of the latter differ from the former in that, you will not need a nursing license to be enrolled for the training. In addition, a certified midwife is not required to have any medical training and therefore, cannot perform any nursing related tasks of the nurse-midwife. However, both types of midwives are certified by the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM).

Finding the best nurse midwife training schools
It is for your benefit to search and get a list of schools that are accredited to offer nurse-midwife training. This not only ensures that your degree is recognized, it will as well allow you to be issued with a national certificate as a certified nurse midwife. You can check with your states’ Board of Nursing to be certain that you will receive up-to standard training.

Training duration
For most nursing schools, the period of learning will take up to two years for full time students. The time taken for online and distance learning programs varies and at times, can take as much as four years. But the study can be accelerated by registering for crush programs.

Labor and Delivery Nursing

Labor and delivery nurses are with women during a very joyous and yet stressful time of their life, the birth of child. This means they must be prepared for many different situations and emergencies that could arise. There are different ways to work in labor and delivery if you choose to do this, from simply adding some specialty classes to your RN program to advancing your career and becoming a nurse midwife.

Before you can begin labor and delivery nurse schooling you have to decide how far you want to take your nursing in this field. Many nurses in the labor room have a typical registered nursing education with some added classes that focus on labor and delivery. The schooling for this type of work is simply an Associate’s Degree or Bachelor’s degree in nursing with the added classes and passing the NCLEX-RN exam to become registered.  However, if you have an Associate’s Degree you will have to bridge that to a BS degree before you move into the nurse midwifery program.

If you decide that you want to become a more advanced nurse in labor and delivery, you can go on to study to become a nurse midwife. The certified nurse midwife program is a nurse practitioner degree (Master’s of Science in Nursing with a midwife specialty); however, many states are requiring a Doctor of Nursing Practice and the future outlook is that this will be the standard requirement.

Because the education for simply working in labor and delivery is no more than the traditional registered nurse education, the schools looked at below will be focused on certified nurse midwife programs.

Labor and Delivery School Options

The schools listed below are all noted for offering certified nurse midwife programs that prepare nurses to take the state examination and become certified in that area.

Frontier University: This is an online schooling option that provides distance base classes and assists students in setting up their clinical work in their hometown. Students are required to attend two or three campus based sessions in Hyden, Kentucky. The program takes two years to complete and with over 1000 preceptor sites across the U.S. graduates students from practically any location. Frontier University has been offering education to nurse midwives for more than 70 years and has a tradition steeped in quality education.

Georgetown University-Washington: This campus-based or online program in Washington is a nationally ranked program that requires 49 credit hours. The program is accredited by the Commission for Midwifery Education and is a full-time program. Clinical studies can be in local or even out-of-state hospitals or clinical sites and may include freestanding birthing facilities. The classes that are online are similar to the live classes in that they are provided in a seminar style and allow you to review them at your convenience as you study. Online students have access to student services and resources at the University.

Philadelphia University: Philadelphia University offers a Master’s of Science – Nurse Midwife degree as well as a Post Master’s Nurse Midwife Certificate. The MS degree is a two-year degree that is full time at the graduate level. Classes are web-based with some on-campus sessions required as well as clinical work that is arranged in the local community medical facilities. The Post Masters Nurse Midwife Certificate is available for nurses who have already earned their Master’s or Doctoral degree in another healthcare specialty and wants to add midwifery to their education. Graduates and certificate holders are eligible to take the certification exam to become certified nurse midwives.

University of Cincinnati: The University of Cincinnati offers an online, distance based nurse-midwifery program for nurses who wish to move into this specialized field of nursing. The classes last approximately two and one-half years and are offered through the online Blackboard program.

Labor and delivery nurse schooling is highly dependent on how far into the labor and delivery process you want to go as a nurse. You can use your traditional RN degree and work in labor and delivery or specialize in midwifery and become a nurse practitioner. Once you have made this decision you can choose the schools that offer you the best options.

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