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Certified Nurse Midwife: Education and Career Information

If you are interested in the healthcare field, but enjoy working with labor and delivery, you may want to pursue a career as a certified nurse midwife. While many people think this career is just for assisting in giving birth, midwives have much more to do, and are an integral part of a healthcare team. This career is also lucrative and can be financially rewarding for the right person.

What does a certified nurse midwife do?

A certified nurse midwife handles a variety of tasks. First, they are registered nurses who have completed an accredited nurse-midwifery program. Nurse midwives provide care during childbirth, oversees prenatal, postpartum and newborn care, tracks the fetal development of the child, is able to perform physical exams, can operate as the primary health care provider, maintains records of the patients’ medical history and exams, works with specialists to get the right care for the patient.

A nurse midwife is a liaison who stays with the mother during labor and delivery, looks for any complications that may occur, provides education on different birthing options depending on underlying health issues, teaches how to breastfeed and provide infant care, educates the mother on what to expect during the birthing process. A certified nurse midwife can also perform a woman’s gynecological care. This position is ideal for employers and patients, as the certified nurse midwife can write prescriptions and perform many of the duties of a regular doctor. You will find them working in private practice, birthing centers, hospitals, health departments and health maintenance organizations.

How much does a certified nurse midwife earn?

As of May 2014, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics places the average annual wage for certified nurse midwives at about $97,700, with the average hourly wage at $46.97. This is contingent on the area, working facility, experience and education. The top 75% make about $114,000, and at the highest point of 90%, these individuals make about $130,000 per year. Nurse midwives are expected to become in high demand, with a 29% increase in jobs through 2022. The American College of Nurse-Midwives has estimated one in 10 babies will be delivered by a certified nurse midwife.

What types of skills are needed to become successful as a certified nurse midwife?

There are a number of skills needed to become successful in this industry:

Problem solving: There are a number of things that could possibly go wrong during the pregnancy term. Being able to handle and solve these problems with a level head is key. A certified nurse midwife should be able to assess a situation, consult with other healthcare practitioners if needed and come up with a plan of action.

Communication: A certified nurse midwife deals with all types of people, from the family to other healthcare practitioners. It is vitally important for this role to be able to effectively communicate on a number of levels to ensure the safety of the mother and child. This role educates, speaks publicly and does a fair amount of writing.

Attention to detail: So many things can go wrong during a pregnancy and childbirth. The certified nurse midwife must be able to monitor and pinpoint any inconsistencies in health or treatment before, during and after childbirth. Paying attention to the little things will make a huge difference in the care and development of the fetus and the overall health of the mother.

Critical Thinking: When things go wrong, a certified nurse midwife must be able to use critical thinking skills to come up with solutions that will work. They must utilize these skills to solicit help from other healthcare practitioners if necessary to ensure the best care for the mother and fetus.

Organization and leadership: Being organized is key. Taking the initiative to implement protocols and an organizational structure will prove beneficial time and time again. Having leadership skills is a must, and being able to delegate from time to time is one of the most important traits of this role.

Compassion: Having a high level of compassion for the mother, family and fetus is important. As a certified nurse midwife, your job is to make sure everyone is comfortable and is able to understand simple information. There may also be times when information being disseminated is not pleasant, being able to connect with the mother and family displaying compassion and empathy is always needed.

Knowledge of technology: As the healthcare landscape continues to change, it is important to be able to use a number of technological devices to make the job easier. Being able to use a computer to keep track of notes and records, and other technology that will monitor the status of the fetus and the overall health of the mother is key.

Internship requirements

Since this position is one that requires an RN license, there are a number of clinical rotations and internship hours required to graduate. Additional experience is required for the midwifery degree program, based on the individual requirements from the school.

Education requirements

In order to become a certified nurse midwife, you must first complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program (BSN). This is a four year program from an accredited nursing school. Students in this field must have chemistry and biology during the first two years of the program. The final two years of the program are focused on nursing, with courses in nursing practice science and ethics, family and community health, and clinical labs.

Once the program is finished, the student must sit for the NCLEX exam to obtain licensure from the state to practice nursing. Once this is obtained, the student should enroll in a graduate program to obtain the Master’s of Science in Nursing with a concentration on midwifery. Most midwife degree programs require a history of good grades and excellence in their previous programs, especially in science.

Applicants entering into the midwifery program should have experience, including at least one year of experience as a nurse. The midwifery program should be accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education. Once the student graduates from this program, they must pass the certification exam from the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) to obtain the Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) credential. Individuals who hold this certification must recertify every five years by completing 20 hours of continuing education. State licensure as a nurse midwife is also needed to practice.

For those who wish to further their opportunities for advancement, they may consider obtaining doula certification to assist with emotional support for the mother during and after childbirth. There is a standard and advanced certification option from The DONA International.

For the right individual, this is a very promising career path. Taking the time to assess the requirements to determine whether or not this would be a good fit is key. These steps should assist in providing direction to assist in making an educated decision for the future.

Nursing Scholarships

American Assembly for Men in Nursing (AAMN) American Cancer Society Doctoral Degree Scholarships in Cancer Nursing Gallagher Student Health Careers Scholarship
The Gates Millenium Scholars (GMS) National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA)
New Careers in Nursing (NCIN) Nurse Corps Scholarship (NCS) Nurses of Tomorrow
Nursing Economics Foundation Tylenol Future Care Scholarship American Holistic Nurses Association
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