How To Become A Certified Nurse Midwife

What Is A Certified Nurse Midwife?

A certified nurse midwife is a nurse that is trained at caring for women who are pregnant and in assisting those women in giving birth when the time comes. In addition they perform other duties, such as gynecology exams and provide advice on such issues on the best methods for family planning. It is a very specific area of nursing that has been in existence for an extremely long time with a strong history.

Nature Of The Work/Duties

The following tasks fall within the certified nurse midwife’s scope of practice:

  • Diagnosing patients
  • Taking a medical history
  • Doing a physical assessment
  • Ordering laboratory tests and procedures
  • Managing therapy
  • Outlining care
  • Providing prescriptions (which is allowed in some states, but not others)
  • Coordinating consultations and referrals
  • Promoting women’s health
  • Reducing health risks in women
  • Managing common illnesses in adults (not the main focus of this line of work)

Consequently a number of the tasks that certified nurse midwives perform are very similar to those performed by regular nurses in every day hospital settings. The difference is that, to a large degree, these nurses are focused on providing care for pregnant expectant mothers and women in general rather than the general patient population.


Certified Nurse MidwifeThere are a number of areas in which a certified nurse midwife can be employed. They can be employed in private practices where they can either work by themselves or alongside a physician. There are also a number of underserved populations in rural areas or inner-city settings that require the services of a skilled midwife in order to ensure the health of their women and children. Popular places for midwives to work are birthing centers where newborn babies are the order of the day. Certified nurse midwives can also work in hospitals, health maintenance organizations (HMOs), and health departments. Employment tends to be limited in this particular nursing specialty as you will only be able to work in those areas where you are likely to come into contact with pregnancy and birth on a regular basis.

Certified Nurse Midwife Requirements

According to the following requirements apply for nurses who want to enter midwifery:

  • Master’s degree in nursing from an accredited nursing school (if the school is not accredited you will be wasting your time and your money).
  • An active registered nursing license (RN) in the state where the school is located (this is because different states have different licensing rules).
  • Some work experience in labor and delivery, generally up to a year
  • Completion of the GRE with satisfactory score
  • Completion of a statistics course with a satisfactory grade
  • Letters of recommendation
  • A statement of purpose describing why you want to become a certified nurse-midwife (this is your chance to stand out from the crowd and display what makes you an ideal candidate to study this area of nursing).

Personality Traits

These are the personality traits that will help in this line of work:

  • You will need a personality that enjoys being busy all the time.
  • You will need to have good interpersonal skills and be outgoing as you will meet new people on a daily basis.
  • Because there are a number of different things that you will need to do each day, multi-tasking skills are essential.
  • A certified nurse midwife has to be able to handle the sight of bodily fluids related to childbirth and have a strong stomach.
  • A love for physical labor will help you in this line of work.
  • Although you need to be caring and empathetic, you also have to combine this with objectivity when something goes wrong and professionalism.
  • A personality that want to learn will also help.
  • Because unexpected things happen all the time in terms of childbirth you cannot be someone who is tied down by routine.
  • Having an undying positive energy will also help in this line of work.

Educational Requirements

There are a number of educational requirements that you need to meet in order to become a certified nurse midwife:

  • Firstly you need to have a two-year Master of Science degree in Nursing (MSN). Generally speaking to enter these courses you must already hold a high school diploma or GED equivalent thereof, another educational requirement. In the past a master’s degree was not required, but it is as of 2010 for all new nurses who want to be midwives.
  • The second and last educational requirement is that you earn a CNM designation from the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM).

As a master’s degree can take many years to earn you may find that this is a nursing specialty that is more time intensive than many other nursing specialties.


The license that you need to hold in order to become a certified nurse midwife is the RN license, which must be valid for the state in which you wish to train to become a certified nurse midwife. To earn the RN license you need a master’s degree in nursing. In the past such an advanced degree was not a requirement, but recently it was decided that all new nurses entering the field must have a master’s degree. After completing the degree program you must apply for licensure form your state board of nursing. When your state board of nursing approves your right to be licensed you will need to make a date to write the NCLEX-RN exam. Passing the exam will earn you your license which you will need to renew on a regular basis.

How To Become A Certified Nurse Midwife

Training, Advancement And Other Qualifications

Training is divided into two sections, namely theory and clinical, and both sections are necessary in order to complete your program and become a certified nurse midwife with the right to practice as one.
According to another website the following theory topics will probably be covered:

  • Advanced Physiology/Pathophysiology
  • Breastfeeding
  • Genetics
  • Gynecology
  • 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
  • Pharmacology principles
  • Primary Care of Women
  • Reproductive Health Care Management


  • Practical experience managing patients before the delivery of a baby
  • Practical experience managing patients during the delivery of a baby
  • Practical experience managing patients after the delivery of a baby

Source An Accredited Education Program

There are a number of questions that you must ask yourself when looking for the right midwife training program, but one of the most important questions is “Is the midwifery school accredited?.” The school absolutely must be accredited by the appropriate body or else you stand the risk of:

  • Losing your money: as you will need to complete a completely new program to become accredited you will have to pay for two programs, a big financial burden.
  • Wasting your time: because you will have to start another program, it will take you twice as long to complete your midwifery qualification as you would like.

Your state board of nursing is an excellent place to begin your search for an accredited program as well as being the most reliable source of this kind of information.

Earn Your Associate’s Degree

Although a master’s degree was not required in order to be a certified nurse midwife in the past, it is a requirement now, and one that cannot be ignored. Consequently, although it is a good way to get your foot in the door of the health care industry, and associate’s degree will simply not be enough to earn you certification in the field of certified nurse midwifery. To earn a master’s degree in nursing you will have to attend one of the many nursing programs offered at schools, colleges, and universities. In some cases you may be able to complete the master’s program with a specialization in midwifery, although not all schools offer master’s degrees of this kind. The course will consist of both theory and clinical training, both of which you need to be proficient in.

Obtain Your Licensure

Once you have your RN license and you have achieved the appropriate amount of clinical experience, you need to earn your certified nurse midwife qualification. There are two main steps involved in this process:
Attend a college offering a certified nurse-midwifery (CNM) program
Sit for an exam offered by the American College of Nurse-Midwives in order to earn your certification and become a certified nurse-midwife
There are about 50 different colleges that offer this qualification across the country so you should have very little trouble finding one near you. The exam is a necessity, but if you attend a course and have the relevant experience you will not find that the questions are too difficult for you. This is the certification required to practice as a certified nurse midwife in the US.

Online/Distance Education Programs

It is possible to earn your certified nurse midwife qualification online. There are several schools that offer this possibility, including:

  • East Carolina University
  • The Frontier School
  • Philadelphia University

However it must be noted that these courses are not complete. Because there is always clinical experience and hands-on training involved in any nursing qualification, you will also need to make provisions for this aspect of your training if you want to study online. A school that claims that your qualification can be completed entirely online must be treated with suspicion as this is simply not possible. Although online study is convenient you will also lose out on the important interaction with other students that can be so valuable in terms of helping your retain the information learned in class.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for certified nurse midwives is extremely good. All registered nursing careers will experience an increase of about 26% in terms of how many job openings there will be from 2012 to 2013. Nurses that have a specialist qualification of some kind can expect an even higher rate of growth for their particular industry as they will be able to bring skills to the table that will make them sought after assets in the nursing profession. in addition to being able to be employed as a nurse midwife in the employment sectors mentioned earlier in this article, nurses with this qualification have also gone through general nurse training and are therefore also eligible to apply for jobs in sectors of the healthcare industry where a specialist qualification is not required.


The average salary for a certified nurse midwife is about $54,111 – $99,706 a year, but when you figure in the potential annual bonus amount of $0.00 – $9,169 as well as potential profit sharing of $3,250 – $5,057 a year, you can expect to earn something like $51,440 – $103,369 annually. The popular industries with their respective salaries for certified nurse midwives are:

  • Healthcare = $48,334 – $98,527 a year
  • Obstetrics & Gynecology = $54,075 – $101,945 a year
  • Hospital = $48,522 – $100,341 a year
  • Medical Services = $47,134 – $99,372 a year
  • Family Planning, Women and Children Healthcare Centers = $41,261 – $91,421 a year

Salaries differ from state to state and city to city. The top paying cities are:

  • Atlanta
  • Denver
  • Chicago
  • Boston

This job is a very rewarding and meaningful one as it involves bringing new life into the world. However it must also be noted that this can be a very stressful job in that it is common for babies to be lost at this stage in their lives. You need to be someone who loves newborns but who can also accept that sometimes tragedies happen and move on from there with their careers.

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