Certified Nurse Midwife Archive

Certified Nurse Midwife

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.

Career Overview

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.

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.

Career Outlook

Those interested in pursuing a career as a certified nurse midwife can expect a bright future! According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the anticipated growth rate of all nursing professional is 22 percent through 2018 and, for those with advanced degrees, nearer to 30 percent.

Advanced practice nurses, such as certified nurse midwives, are in especially high demand because of the skills and knowledge they bring to their area of specialty. Many advanced practice nurses are able to perform many of the same functions as medical doctors, particularly within rural and inner-city communities where job prospects for certified nurse midwives will be particularly strong.

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.


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).

Median Certified Nurse Midwife salary ranges in select regional areas.

Los Angeles, CA$100,061
Boulder, CO$93,682
Boca Raton, FL$89,581
Atlanta, GA$91,312
New York, NY$108,171
Dallas, TX$90,857

Figures from salary.com