How to Become a Midwife in Arkansas
Many expectant mothers want care from a healthcare professional who specializes in pregnancy and birth and can help them achieve the kind of successful birthing process they desire. Often, women envision this as occurring in the home or outside of a hospital, but the truth is that 96.4 percent of births attended by nurse midwives in 2013 happened in hospitals, according to the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), while just 2.9 percent occurred at home. Although there are many types of positions available for midwives in Arkansas, most midwives have advanced education in the form of a master's degree. In fact, nationwide, 82 percent have this advanced education, the ACNM reports. However, nurse midwives practice specific and special forms of care, which often include a sense of partnership with the patient, use of skillful communication, and a process that honors self-determination and patient decision-making. A look at the ACNM's "Philosophy of Care" provides much more insight into this valuable career.
Educational Requirements to Become a Midwife in Arkansas
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a master's degree is typically necessary to pursue a career as a certified nurse midwife. This comes on top of a bachelor's degree in nursing or a similar healthcare field that has already enabled them to become a registered nurse (RN). A master's degree in midwivery generally takes two to three years of full-time study to complete, but in many cases there may be options to pursue a degree part-time. Courses typically found in a nurse midwife program include advanced concepts in physiology and pathophysiology, advanced concepts in pharmacology, and advanced health assessment, all three of which are now foundational in most master's in nursing programs. In addition to these, students in a nurse midwife program might take classes such as:
- Introduction to Reproductive Healthcare of Women
- Labor, Birth and Newborn Care
- Antepartal Care for Nurse - Midwifery
- Women's Health for Nurse - Midwifery
Clinical or practicum hours will also be necessary as part of a master's degree program. These clinical hour requirements vary by state and by school institution, but generally give students hands-on experiences working in a hospital or at other healthcare sites under the supervision of an experienced healthcare professional. Unfortunately, there are no accredited schools in Arkansas that offer a midwife program, but a few that offer MSN degrees include:
- Arkansas State University, in Jonesboro
- University of Arkansas, at Fayetteville
- Arkansas Tech University, in Russellville
- University of Central Arkansas, in Conway
Other options for completing a midwife education include online learning programs. While a master's degree in nursing can be completed through the University of Arkansas Online, a midwife concentration is not available. Schools offering online degrees with a focus in midwifery include the University of Cincinnati, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, and George Washington University.
Licensing Requirements to Become a Midwife in Arkansas
To be licensed as an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) in Arkansas, which includes in midwifery, applicants must undergo a state and federal background check, provide a transcript from their APRN program, and show proof of certification. While the Arkansas State Board of Nursing does not specify the type of certification needed on its home page, this is typically obtained through an organization such as the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). Passing an exam and graduating from an accredited midwife program are requirements on the path to certification.
Once licensing has been granted in the state, it will be good anywhere from three years to 27 months, depending on the applicant's date of birth. After initial renewal, the cycle will then fall to biennial renewals. Each renewal, 20 contact hours of continuing education are needed, and the process can often be completed online as long as licensing has not lapsed.
Another type of license available in Arkansas is that of the lay midwife, in which there is not a nursing background. This is for an individual who is not certified as a nurse midwife, but who intends to help manage care during a woman's pregnancy and post-pregnancy process. This license requires completion of a preceptorship, which is comprised of practical hours working under the supervision of a physician or certified licensed nurse midwife. Applicants also must obtain CPR training and pass a licensing exam, offered either through the state or through the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM). This licensing is good for two years, but requires 20 hours of continuing education units (CEUs) for renewal.
Salary and Job Outlook
What rewards can a nurse midwife reap in addition to being able to assist women with birthing and healthcare? As a matter of fact, the BLS reports that their pay can be high; although midwife data is not available specific to the state of Arkansas, the mean annual salary for midwives nationwide was $97,700, as of May 2014. Those working in Iowa, California, North Dakota, Oregon, and New Hampshire had the highest mean annual wages, all above $111,000.
Job opportunities for nurse midwives are expected to increase 29 percent nationwide from 2012 to 2022, according to the BLS. This faster-than-average growth could result in 1,700 positions becoming available for nurse midwives over those years. While there is no specific data for nurse midwife career growth in Arkansas, nationwide demand is expected to grow due to the following factors:
- APRNs, which include licensed midwives, being given more practice authority
- More people having access to health care coverage under recent changes in federal law
- An interest by pregnant women in having access to healthcare practitioners with specialized care
- The Affordable Care Act requiring Medicare to reimburse certified midwives at 100 percent of the physician rate, instead of the previous 65 percent, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal
While the BLS reports that APRNs of all types will be needed in upcoming years, those willing to work in rural or under-served areas may find their knowledge and talents in the most demand. That said, a nurse midwife can build just the type of career they seek in a rural setting, suburban area, or even in an urban city as women are constantly in need of care, whether for delivery or general health.
- Essential Facts about Midwives, American College of Nurse Midwifes (ACNM), http://www.midwife.org/Essential-Facts-about-Midwives
- Health Care of the Future: Midwives deliver growing share of babies in state, U.S., Puget Sound Business Journal, Feb. 1, 2013, http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/print-edition/2013/02/01/health-care-of-the-future-midwives.html
- Lay Midwifery, Arkansas State Board of Nursing, http://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programsServices/familyHealth/WomensHealth/Pages/LayMidwifery.aspx
- License Renewal, Arkansas State Board of Nursing, http://www.arsbn.arkansas.gov/Pages/default.aspx
- May 2014 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates United States, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm#00-0000
- Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Jan. 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm#tab-6
- Nurse Midwives, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291161.htm
- Nurse-Midwifery/Women's Health Nurse Practitioner (NM/WHNP), Georgetown University, https://online.nursing.georgetown.edu/academics/nurse-midwifery-womens-health-nurse-practitioner/
- Nurse-Midwifery (NMW), Vanderbilt University, http://www.nursing.vanderbilt.edu/msn/nmw_plan.html
- Philosophy of Care, American College of Nurse Midwifes (ACNM), http://www.midwife.org/Our-Philosophy-of-Care
- Renewal Frequently Asked Questions, Arkansas State Board of Nursing, https://www.ark.org/nurse_renew_static/RenewalFAQsrevisedJanuary2014.pdf