Facts About A Certified Nurse Midwife

What Is A Certified Nurse Midwife?

A certified nurse midwife is a nurse that specializes in the area of pregnancy and birth and consequently they work in a very narrow field seeing only those patients who are pregnant or who plan to become pregnant. In addition these nurses will provide advice on matter s such as family planning and help expectant mothers cope with the fears that they may have about having a child in the near future.

Nature Of The Work/Duties

The nature of the work that midwives do is quite specific. A certified nurse midwife is active in diagnosing patients, specifically women, who are suffering from a condition of some kind. This will involve taking their medical history, doing a physical assessment, and ordering laboratory tests and procedures. Certified nurse midwives also outline care in a way that the patient can understand and provide prescriptions for various medications, although they are not permitted to have this privilege in all states. IN addition certified nurse midwives are active in coordinating consultations and referrals when the patient needs to see someone with more advanced skills and experience. Although the main role of the midwife is to promote women’s health and reduce health risks in women, they are also generally speaking able to manage common illnesses in adults.


Certified Midwife NurseThere are a number of settings in which certified nurse midwives are qualified to work. These include:

  • Private practices (either by themselves or together with a physician)
  • Health maintenance organizations (HMOs)
  • Hospitals
  • Health departments
  • Birthing centers
  • Underserved populations in rural areas or inner-city settings

Employment in this sector can be very stressful as many nurses feel far more responsible and emotional when they lose a child as opposed to losing an adult patient. Consequently there are a number of personality requirements that you will need in order to cope as a nurse working in an intensive setting such as this one. As women will always be giving birth to babies, there will always be employment for you in this particular specialized area of the nursing industry. This does not suit everyone.

Certified Nurse Midwife Requirements

As with any nursing specialty there are a number of requirements that you need to meet before you can enter training to be a midwife. Firstly you need a Master’s degree in nursing. This degree must be earned from a school that is properly accredited. Secondly you must have an active registered nursing license. For most midwifery courses you need to have experience in a labor and delivery setting of about 1 year but the period can differ from school to school. You will need to complete the GRE as well as a statistics course with satisfactory scores. Last but not least you will require letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose describing why you want to become a certified nurse-midwife in order to enter a certified nurse midwife program.

Personality Traits

These are some of the personality traits that you will need as a certified nurse midwife:

  • A sense of humor will help you survive the more unpleasant aspects of your job as a certified nurse midwife.
  • If you are someone who values professionalism you will find this job to be far easier than someone who does not.
  • Diligence is a requirement because omissions and mistakes can be life-threatening in this line of work.
  • Compassion is a requirement as well, but it needs to be balanced by objectivity.
  • If you have a sense that there is some deeper meaning to life you will be able to handle the job of a certified midwife nurse more easily.
  • You must always be positive and feel a sense of hope when those around you seem hopeless.
  • An attitude of “never say never” characterizes a good nurse.
  • Pride in your work and in yourself will also stand you in good stead in this line of work.

Educational Requirements

As with every area of nursing there are some specific educational requirements involved in becoming a certified nurse midwife. The firs requirement is that you hold a master’s degree in nursing. These programs can take about two years to complete and you need to have a high school diploma or GED before you will be granted access to a program such as this. On top of that you will need to receive special CNM designation. This will be given to you through the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM). In the past there was no master’s degree requirement for a nursing specialty such as this, but in order to maintain standards and ensure the safety of the patients involved, this degree of education is now a requirement.


To become a certified nurse midwife you need to have an RN license. The following steps are required in order to earn this license:

  • You need, firstly, to complete a degree program in nursing. At present a master’s degree is required in order to become a certified nurse midwife, but to just get your license an associate’s or bachelor’s degree will do.
  • Apply for licensure from your state board of nursing. To do this you will need to visit their website and view the licensure requirements.
  • Once the board approves your application you need to set a date to write the NCLEX-RN exam with Pearson Vue.
  • Passing the exam means you will be licensed.
  • Your license will need to be renewed on a regular basis determined by the state you work in.

How To become A Certified Nurse Midwife

Training, Advancement And Other Qualifications

There are a number of different topics that you will cover during your theory training program, including Advanced Physiology/Pathophysiology, Health and Social Policy, Health Research, Laboratory Medicine, Management and Advanced Practice Nursing, Breastfeeding, Genetics, Gynecology, Management of the Antepartum, Intrapartum and Postpartum Periods, and Newborn Assessment and Care. These are just a few of the topics that you are likely to cover in the theory side and they may vary from school to school. However it is important to remember that there are always two parts to any nursing training program. In the case of certified nurse midwifery you will also have to do a clinical side to your training. In this clinical training you will gain clinical experience in the birthing process. You will be required to observe and assist in the process before, during, and after the baby is actually born.

Source An Accredited Education Program

One of the most important things that you will need to do when embarking on your journey to becoming a certified nurse midwife is to ensure that the schools where you do your certified nurse midwife training is in fact accredited by the appropriate bodies. In order to ensure that a school is accredited you can do two main things:

  • Enquire at your state board of nursing about a specific school or look through the list they will provide (the more reliable of the two options)
  • Enquire at each school to see if they are accredited

The first option is considered to be the more reliable option on the basis that there, unfortunately, a number of schools out there offering nurse training that are no honest in their dealing and that may not be open about their accreditation status.

Earn Your Associate’s Degree

There are not many nursing specialties these days that will allow you to practice with only an associate’s degree. As of 2010, the field of certified nurse midwifery joined this group. Although an associate’s degree will get you into the field of nursing in general and even allow you to practice as a licensed registered nurse (provided you write the NCLEX-RN exam), you will only be able to receive certification as a nurse midwife if you have a master’s degree from a 2-year program. This is order to ensure that the quality of the nurses being placed in a position to care for women and newborn infants in vulnerable positions is high and that they have a sufficient amount of theory knowledge and clinical experience behind them. Many nursing universities offer these degrees.

Obtain Your Licensure

The first thing that you need to do is to become licensed as an RN. The steps to achieve this have already been mentioned. After that you need to earn the appropriate amount of experience in labor and delivery and attend a college that offers a certified nurse-midwifery (CNM) program or qualification. There are a number of such programs to choose form, just make sure that the one that you attend is accredited. Once you have done that you will need to sit an exam offered by the American College of Nurse-Midwives in order to earn your certification and become a certified nurse midwife. This exam will allow you to then practice in this area of nursing full-time and will make you eligible to earn a higher salary as well as more respect.

Online/Distance Education Programs

There are a number of advantages to enrolling in one to several online certified nurse midwife training programs on offer form universities such as:

  • East Carolina University
  • The Frontier School
  • Philadelphia University

Because training in any area of nursing has to comprise of both a theoretical side as well as hands-on clinical experience side you will be unable to complete the qualification entirely online. However it can be helpful in that you will only have to work in a labor and delivery setting while your theory coursework can be completed after hours and in your own time, thereby not impacting on your career or job in a serious way. Online study requires a special personality, however, and this method of studying does not necessarily suit everybody who would like to be a midwife.

Job Outlook

According to this website: “Inner cities, rural areas and underserved communities create the strongest demand for certified nurse-midwives who can offer medical services at a lower cost for employers, which means lower costs for patients without sacrificing quality of care.” This means that the job outlook in these particular areas for certified nurse midwives is better than it is in other areas. However the general job outlook across the board is fairly good for this occupation. There is an expected growth of 26% in the NR industry from 2012 to 2016. In addition to this, nurses with a specialist qualification, such as certified nurse midwives, will be able to benefit from the fact that an increasing population means and increasing need for their skills. They can also work in general health care settings that don’t need a specialist qualification.


There are a number of factors that can affect the average salary that a nurse can earn, including:

  • Employer: Some employers pay more than others
  • Education: The higher your education the more you can earn
  • Area of Specialty: With a specialty you tend to earn more with certified nurse midwives earning well near the top end of the overall salary range of midwives in general

In general a certified nurse midwife can earn more than $92,000 a year (this is the national average), far more than what many other nurses in other areas earning. The overall range is approximately $54,111 – $99,706 a year and the best paying cities are Atlanta in Georgia, Denver in Colorado, Chicago in Illinois, and Boston in Massachusetts.

Bringing new life into the world can be extremely rewarding while at the same time stressful in that you are the person responsible for that child’s safety. An ability to accept that tragedies sometimes happen, and an attitude that does not allow you to blame yourself and dwell on the past, will help you in this line of work. As nursing specialties go, this one pays extremely well and is therefore a good option to consider.

Leave a Reply