How do I become a Certified Nurse Midwife?

A Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) is part of the distinguished category of specialty Advance Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) who are highly trained within the realm of women’s health. They are responsible for assisting women during labor and delivery, as well as, reproductive and primary care issues like regular gynecological, breast exams and family planning. They work as counselors and are experienced in pre-natal, post-partum and newborn health care. With concern for the health of the pregnant woman, they work tirelessly by educating the patient to reduce risk factors associated with pregnancy such as low birth rates, premature deliveries and cesarean births.

Certified Nurse Midwives may work in hospitals, women’s healthcare clinics or in their own privately-owned practices, however, they are also allowed to oversee childbirth in at-home settings.

The average salary for a Certified Nurse Midwife is $96,970 annually, however, salaries may range from between $62,480 – $119,690 per year, depending on educational degree, experience and job location. Many CNMs work long hours and, at times, are on call at all hours of the day or night with situations involving childbirth. Midwifery is a career on the rise with an average growth rate of 29% between now and 2022 with over 6,000 nurse midwives at work in the United States today.

To become a CNM, one must earn an online Bachelor of Science (BSN) degree in Nursing and become a Registered Nurse (RN). You must pass your state’s requirements including the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). At this point, you will need to gain at least one year of valuable work experience, preferably within the field of women’s health, such as in a OB/GYN clinic or other healthcare facility. Also, working in a hospital labor and delivery ward would be an excellent way to get your required experience. Generally, to be accepted into a Midwife degree program, applicants need to have maintained a 3.0 GPA in the core nursing and science courses.

The next step in becoming a Certified Nurse Midwife involves earning your online Master of Science in Nursing degree, with a focus on midwifery, to be certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). Coursework may involve subjects such as reproductive pathophysiology, care of newborns, advanced midwifery nursing, primary care of women, intrapartum care, postpartum care, in addition to, theory and hands-on clinical experience.

About 82% of CNMs hold a master’s degree and 4.8% have a doctoral degree. This is the largest category of APRN nurses that hold a graduate degree, so be sure to enroll in an accredited school, typically endorsed by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME), that is approved by the state in which you intend to practice. Typically, the graduate program will take up to two years to complete, although some accelerated options are available.

Opportunities to receive your education through an online program are available, as well, or at least partially. However, hands-on clinical experience will be needed to complete your program requirements.

Your final step in becoming a Certified Nurse Midwife will require that you pass the certification exam given by the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB), however, this must be done within 24 months of completing a midwife degree program. This test is typically a 175-question multiple choice examination giving you four hours to complete. Every five years, you must be re-certified. Please be aware that there may be additional certifications required per your state to begin a career in midwifery.

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