How to Become a Nurse Midwife

Aspiring nurses who want to learn about how to become a nurse midwife in the US would find this guide useful, as it contains important information about the different aspects of this profession. Here, students can find details regarding the education criteria, including admission requirements, common coursework and program length. In addition to that, the guide contains salary and job outlook information as well.

What is a Nurse Midwife?

Nurse midwives are highly trained medical professionals that focus on childbirth and offer gynecological, prenatal and postnatal care. Expecting parents across the world usually prefer to opt for midwives, as they provide a more individualized, intimate and informative birthing experience. In some cases, nurse midwives also offer special services such as at-home births.

What Does a Nurse Midwife Do?

Nurse midwives perform a wide range of medical procedures such as writing prescriptions, ordering and reviewing diagnostic tests, creating treatment plans and performing physical exams. These professionals typically carry out diagnostic tests on potential, expecting and new parents and provide education and training on all things related to childbirth. New parents are also given training and education on the basics of infant care, with common topics such as SIDs and colic.

In addition to that, nurse midwives also care for new mothers immediately after childbirth and may be tasked with administering low-intervention pain relief during the process of labor. They watch for any complications that may require the attention of a physician in the birthing process and also provide postpartum care for mothers and infants.

Where Do Nurse Midwives Work?

Nurse midwives can find work in a variety of healthcare settings. These include the likes of state, local and private hospitals, birthing centers, public health clinics, offices of physicians and outpatient care centers. These medical personnel often work in conjunction with certified professional midwives (CPMs) and other healthcare professionals. Even though this line of work can be highly rewarding, it can also be quite stressful, with long working hours and high-pressure medical situations.

How to Become a Nurse Midwife?

In order to become a nurse midwife in the US, there are a series of steps that aspiring nurses need to follow. The following steps to become a nurse midwife shed some light on the details of this process.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Degree

A BSN is traditionally a four-year long program that helps develop leadership skills in students and allows them to explore greater career opportunities than those available with an associate degree in nursing.

Step 2: Clear the NCLEX-RN Exam

Students aspiring to become a part of this profession will be required to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) in order to be eligible for entry-level positions. The exam is a comprehensive test of the students’ medical knowledge and has four major categories.

Step 3: Get Some Nursing Experience

Nursing experience is a requirement for most graduate-level programs. Students will be required to complete at least 1-2 years of clinical experience before admission. This experience allows students to hone their skills and knowledge which helps them develop a certain level of medical authority required for more advanced roles.

Step 4: Pursue a Specialization

While working as a registered nurse, students are advised to look for additional certifications they can pursue. For instance, RNs can get a neonatal intensive care nursing certification offered by the National Certification Corporation. Bear in mind that all certifications would have their own set of qualifying criteria along with their own individual exams.

Step 5: Enroll in a Graduate Program

In order to practice as a nurse midwife, the minimum level of education required is a graduate degree. Students can go for a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree with a specialization in nurse midwifery. Although either degree would make you equally eligible for certification, a DNP typically has better career prospects in the future. Admission requirements for both programs would vary according to institute, though most programs would require students to have at least a bachelor’s degree with an above-average GPA and a valid RN license. Some programs might also require some background coursework in midwifery, however, most institutes do not make this mandatory.

An MSN degree would typically take two years to complete, while a DNP degree would take at least 3-4 years of dedicated study.

Step 6: Get Certified

Before being eligible to practice, nursing graduates will have to obtain a certification from the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). The AMCB offers a Certified Nurse Midwife credential that requires a graduate degree and an RN license as qualifying factors. The certification exam tests the students’ understanding of the vast field of nursing, including their grasp on safe practice, pharmacology, physiology and general medical concerns. The test comprises of multiple choice questions that need to be completed on computers at specified testing sites.

Step 7: Obtain State Licensure

Each state has its own requirements when it comes to licensure for nurse midwives. For instance, some states require additional applications for nurses who want to prescribe medication, while others may allow all certified nurse midwives to prescribe medication without any additional paperwork.

Step 8: Look for a Job

Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) can look for employment in a variety of medical facilities, such as hospitals, home healthcare centers and clinics. CNMs are advised to take advantage of their professional connections at their place of education and experience when looking for jobs.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Nurse Midwife?

In order to become a nurse midwife, there are certain educational and experience requirements that must be fulfilled. To join this field, students will first have to complete a 4-year long Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. This would be followed by a 2-year long Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. The timeline for certifications and licensure should also be taken into account as it may take up to several months. In addition to that, it must be kept in mind that the time taken to become a nurse midwife would vary according to the educational path chosen.

How to Choose a Nursing School?

There are certain factors that must be kept in mind when looking for a nursing school. The most important aspect is the accreditation of the institute. Nursing programs ought to be accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). In addition to that, aspiring nurses should also consider the reputation of the institute, location, job placements, tuition fee and acceptance rates.

How Much Do Nurse Midwives Make?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nurse Midwives made an annual median income of $111,130 in May 2020. The top paying industry for this profession was the local government, excluding schools and hospitals, which paid an annual mean income of $158,210. This was followed by Outpatient Care Centers, which paid an annual mean income of $142,010, Offices of Physicians, which paid an annual mean income of $166,440 and General Medical and Surgical Hospitals, which paid an annual mean income of $111,420 in May 2020.

In addition to industry, salary brackets for nurse midwives also varied from state to state. The top paying state for this profession was California, with an annual mean wage of $159,590, which was followed by Utah ($133,680) and Mississippi ($127,960).

Job Outlook for Nurse Midwives

The job outlook for nurse midwives is very bright. As per data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment growth for the combined occupational category of Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives and Nurse Practitioners is expected to be 45% for the years between 2019 and 2029. This growth rate is substantially higher than the 4% average growth for all occupations in the US and can be attributed to a number of factors. For instance, one of the main reasons for this exponential growth is the increased demand for healthcare services for all age groups. Nursing staff will be high in demand for treating the aging population and those with chronic medical conditions. Many job openings are expected to be created as a result of the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or retire. Job opportunities for nurses, including nurse midwives, are expected to be bright in underserved areas, such as inner cities and rural areas.

The top employing industries for nurse midwives are Offices of Physicians, with an employment figure of 3,050 in May 2020. This is followed by Outpatient Care Centers, where nurse midwives held 1,170 jobs, Office of Other Health Practitioners, where these professionals held 580 jobs and Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools, where these medical personnel had 110 jobs.

Job outlook for nurse midwives also varied according to location. The state with the highest employment for nurse midwives was California, with an employment figure of 1,010, New York, with an employment figure of 460 and Georgia, with an employment figure of 420.

Please note that all the above salary and employment data, along with the defined occupational categories, has been extracted from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics for May 2020.

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