The nurse-midwife is an advanced practice nurse with additional training for pregnancy, delivery, and prenatal and postpartum care for women. Nurse-midwives are very involved in labor and delivery. They are trained to recognize abnormal signs and symptoms, and will consult with a physician who may become involved in the delivery if needed.

Most nurse-midwives deliver babies in hospitals and in homes, but you can find these nurses in clinics and doctors’ offices, where they provide other services such as family planning and birth control counseling. Other services that nurse-midwives provide include physicals and breast exams, pap smears and preventive health screening. Although qualified to administer drugs and to perform medical procedures, those interventions are not routine for nurse-midwives, and they are used only when the mother requests them.

Prerequisites for Becoming a Nurse Midwife

There are no national minimum requirements for acceptance into a nurse-midwifery or midwifery education program, as each program establishes its own prerequisites for admission. As a clinical provider, a certified midwife, a midwife with a master’s degree, or a graduate of a nurse-midwifery or midwifery education program all can prove to become superb clinical providers. However, the number of states or employers who require nurse-midwives to obtain a master’s degree in order to practice is on the increase. Certified nurse midwives (CNMs) are new to the health care field and may not yet be recognized to practice in all states yet. In addition, some career opportunities and/or employers may have minimum degree requirements for nurse-midwives and midwives.

How to become a Nurse Midwife

Becoming a registered nurse (RN) is only a requirement to become a certified nurse-midwife (CNM), not a certified midwife (CM). If you are a high school student and have decided you want to become a CNM, you can enroll in a four-year university program that awards a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) degree, and then apply to a nurse-midwifery education program.

Since there are so many categories to choose from in the nurse-midwife profession, you might want to consider how much education you want, what setting(s) you want to practice in, what state(s) you might want to live and practice in, and what income level is important to you. These factors differ pretty much along the lines of the two categories of midwives – nurse-midwives, who are trained in both nursing and midwifery, and direct entry midwives, who trained as midwives without being nurses first.

Careers Available After Becoming a Nurse Midwife

According to a 1990 survey by the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), 23.2% of CNMs are employed by public, private, university or military hospitals. A certified nurse midwife (CNM) also can work in health maintenance organizations and managed care, private practices, birth centers, clinics, assist in home births and become international health advocates.

A career in nurse-midwifery offers an individual diversity and independence in practice and attracts prospective students from all walks of life. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, LPNs and LVNs held 749,000 jobs in 2006. This number is predicted to grow to 854,000 by 2016, indicating a 14 percent increase in employment over a 10-year span. While employment opportunities for LPNs are strong in hospitals, a growing trend toward finding a greater number of jobs in home health care and in nursing care facilities is expanding.

Depending on work environment and work experience, the median expected salary for a typical Certified Nurse Midwife in the United States is $86,820. The nurse midwife, without certification, earns about $60,000 per year, with an increase to approximately $76,000 per year after five to nine years of experience.