Nurse Midwife Program and Career Overview
Nurse midwifes are part of a group of highly trained registered nurses called advanced practice registered nurses, or APRNs. The group also includes nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists. Although APRNs perform many of the same duties as registered nurses, they also are trained and licensed to perform additional duties that fall outside the scope of services provided by RNs.
Nurse midwife education and degree programs
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov), nurse midwives and other APRNs must obtain a minimum of a master's degree from an accredited nursing program. Nurse midwives can choose from many different areas of study for their undergraduate work. Vocational and career colleges typically offer associate level study paths, with students transferring to the university level to obtain bachelor's and master's of science in nursing degrees. Many schools also have programs in place to help RNs with bachelor-level education transition into master's-level study, the BLS says. Some schools have programs in place to help people with years of health care work experience, such those in allied health fields, earn RN certification as well as complete the required APRN core curriculum.
The most common educational path for a nurse midwife is the Doctor of Nurse Practicing (DNP) degree, the BLS reports. However, some nurse midwives choose to pursue doctorate-level education. Additionally, a nurse midwife must earn certification from the American Midwifery Certification Board, a designation that needs to be renewed every five years.
Nurse midwife coursework and areas of study
Coursework for Doctor of Nurse Practicing programs typical builds and expands upon topics RNs have learned through their undergraduate studies. As an example, a university in Nevada's DNP program consists of 39 total units spread out over five semesters, including a summer session the first year. Class content focuses on many key areas that a nurse midwife will use throughout his or her career, including:
- Analysis of health care organizations
- Translational evidence for health care systems
- Management strategies for nursing and health care systems
- Collaboration, communication and negotiation for the nurse leader
- Health and public policy for advanced practicing nurses
Other advanced coursework helps prepare nurse midwives for leadership roles in clinical practice, clinical teaching and health care analysis.
Duties and career outlook for nurse midwives
According to the BLS, nurse midwives provide a wide range of medical services to women, including gynecology exams, prenatal care, family planning, and help with labor and deliver of babies. Some also are primary caregivers to newborns. Others provide routine wellness care, the BLS says, including education on healthy living, nutrition and preventing diseases.
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, there is a growing demand for nurses to complete Doctor of Nurse Practicing degree programs due to increased complexity of patient care, shortages of trained nursing personnel -- especially those with doctorate-level experience -- and increased knowledge of medical practices.
The BLS predicts the field to grow by 29 percent from 2012 through 2022. The national median annual salary for nurse midwives was $44.37 in May of 2013, the BLS reports. The top 10 percent of nurse midwives earned as much as $57.95 an hour, while the bottom 10 percent took home up to $30.20 an hour.
Become A Midwife
Women throughout the U.S. rely on midwives for personal wellness care and delivery of their babies. The National Center for Health Statistics reports that certified nurse-midwives attended 313,846 births in 2012.
There are several different paths students can take to become certified midwives or certified nurse-midwives, which are part of a group of highly trained advanced practice registered nurses (along with nurse anesthetists and nurse practitioners).
How to become a certified midwife
There are strict educational requirements to earning the nurse-midwife or certified midwife designation. According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives, roughly 82 percent of all certified nurse-midwives have completed a minimum of a master's degree, and beginning in 2010 that level of education became standard for entry into the profession. Nearly 5 percent have earned doctoral degrees, the ACNM reports.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recognizes the American Midwifery Certification Board as the national body in charge of midwife certification. However, there are other midwifery certification associations in the U.S., such as the North American Registry of Midwives and the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives. Since certification and educational requirements vary from each organization, students should check with their state's nursing board to see which certification is recognized in their home state before enrolling in a program.
The American College of Nurse-Midwives certification test cost $500 as of summer 2014, and examinations are held at a certified testing facility. Certification is valid for five years, the ACME says.
Educational requirements for certified midwives
Students interested in becoming registered nurse-midwives should expect to earn a bachelor's degree in nursing or related field followed by graduate-level study in a nurse-midwifery program. Certified nurse-midwife educational programs are accredited through the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME), the officially recognized body for nurse-midwifery education in the U.S. The organization recognizes 39-ACME certified schools.
Educational requirements for the Certified Professional Midwife designation, given by the North American Registry of Midwifes, are much different. Students don't require a degree; instead, their portfolio of work history is evaluated along with proof of graduation from midwifery education and state licensure programs.
Career outlook for certified midwifes and nurse-midwives
Certified midwives work in a variety of settings, from birthing centers to patient's homes, the BLS reports. The work can be demanding, and they also must be able to make tough decisions about patient care.
National median annual wages for nurse-midwives was $50.36 an hour in May 2015. Employment for nurse-midwives is projected to grow 29 percent from 2012 through 2022, the BLS reports. Changes to laws governing advanced practice nursing providers is expected to drive this growing demand for midwifery specialists, the BLS finds. Jobs should be especially in high demand in medically underserved rural areas that lack a highly skilled medical workforce.
Request Information from Midwife Colleges
The midwife degree program you need in order to get your career started is listed below among many respected midwife schools, colleges, and universities. This page was designed to provide you a resource to find what you need quickly and efficiently. Request information from several of the midwife schools, colleges, and universities below in order to find the right program for you.
Doctor of Nurse Practicing Fact Sheet, American Association of College of Nursing, January 21, 2014, http://www.aacn.nche.edu/media-relations/fact-sheets/dnp
Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives and Nurse Practitioners, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm
Nurse Midwives, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291161.htm
"Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 8, 2014, www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm
"Nurse Midwives," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013: www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291161.htm
"Step-by-step Midwifery exam process," American Midwifery Certification Board, www.amcbmidwife.org/amcb-certification/application-process
- ACNM Compensation & Benefits Survey, American College of Nurse-Midwives, 2010. http://www.midwife.org/ACNM/files/ccLibraryFiles/Filename/000000002053/ACNM_SalarySurvey_2010_FINAL.pdf
- May 2014 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates United States, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, 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