Certified Nurse Midwife

Learn about what it takes to become a nurse-midwife, what’s involved with the practice of midwifery, midwifery salary information, and take a look at an actual online masters of science in nursing program offering concentrations in midwifery.

Nurse-Midwifery Education

Certified Nurse-Midwives are Registered Nurses educated at the graduate level in programs of study accredited by the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM). Their graduate degree may be in Nursing, Midwifery or Public Health.  Master of Science in nursing programs frequently require a bachelor of science in nursing for entry.

After successful completion of an accredited program, nurse-midwives are certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). As of January 1st, 2011 you must hold a graduate degree and hold a valid license as a registered nurse to sit for the certified nurse-midwife examination.

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Midwife Career

Certified Nurse-Midwives are responsible for the gynecologic and primary healthcare of women from adolescence through menopause.  Reproductive health care is a main focus of a nurse-midwife’s practice.  This includes assessment and management of  contraceptive and birth control methods, general gynecological care, and general preventative care. While reproductive health is a main concern for Certified Nurse-Midwives, they may also provide more general primary care to women across the lifespan.

Of course Certified Nurse-Midwives also provide complete care for women during pregnancy, including prenatal and postpartum care.  They care for a woman giving birth, providing woman-centered care that emphasizes the normalcy of birth.  They also care for newborns at birth, and in the first month of life. Certified Nurse-Midwives practice in hospitals, clinics, birthing centers, and also may attend home-births.

Certified Nurse Midwives prescribe medication, treatments, medical devices, and diagnostic measures across the country. All states recognize prescriptive authority for nurse-midwives, with the scope of practice varying from state to state.

As with most careers in the healthcare industry, one of a certified nurse-midwives biggest jobs is communicating successfully with patients. There are a wide variety of birthing practices that women may prefer and it’s important that they understand the risks and benefits of each. Well-informed clients are a great first step in successful preventative healthcare.

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Midwife Salary

Nurse midwives are also able to order tests, prescribe medications, and see patients in a hospital, clinic, health department, or private practice setting. Due to their advanced education and training, nurse midwives earn more than traditional registered nurses (RNs). On average, certified midwives make $82,000 per year, depending on their years of experience, the geographic location where they practice, and the setting of their practice.

By providing only women’s health services or in-office prenatal care, some midwives may earn less than those who are willing to make house calls and attend deliveries. Benefit packages will also vary by setting and employer, resulting in pay fluctuations. Midwifery services are in high demand in some areas, causing employers to offer lucrative incentives and benefit packages in an attempt to attract qualified CNM’s.

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Midwifery Education Programs

Curriculum and Core Classes

Clinical nurse specialist education programs are considered advanced nursing degrees and may be part of the MSN, PhD, DNP or post-graduate certificate programs of an educational institution. What program carries CNS training will depend on the school.

In order to enroll, nurses must have a BSN degree from an accredited college or university and at least two years of nursing experience in the field of study they wish to specialize in (adult, geriatrics, pediatrics, acute care, etc.). Some educational institutions offer CNS enrollment to RNs who hold a bachelor’s degree in another field (but also has an ADN nursing degree).

There are many schools that offer CNS courses exclusively online or a combination of classroom and distance learning. Students should choose the program that best fits personal and professional needs and take time to speak with department staff before enrolling.

Course requirements will vary slightly between schools, but should contain a few common components. Most programs will offer a variety of classes that explore nursing concepts, individual and family development, physiologic concepts, pathophysiology, research and role development. Becoming a CNS also requires advanced physical assessment skills and enhanced clinical decision-making approaches. Classroom credits vary between 38 and 45 hours plus extensive hands-on clinical time of 600 hours or more.

Prescriptive authority for clinical nurse specialists vary by state. If a CNS practices in a state where prescription authority is granted, the CNS must first meet the state’s prescription authority requirements before they can prescribe medications.

Program Length

RNs who enroll in an acute care nurse practitioner education program can expect to spend two years or slightly more in classroom and clinical time. The number of credit hours the student carries and other life demands can influence training time, and attending as a part-time student can influence how long it takes to complete the degree.

After graduating from an accredited CNS program, clinical nurse specialists must take and pass a national licensure examination. To be eligible for the exam, CNS graduates must have a current RN license and proof of graduation from an accredited CNS program recognized by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Applicants must also provide proof of 500 clinical hours with an approved preceptor in the specialty area and passing grades in pharmacology, advanced pathophysiology and physical assessment graduate level courses.

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American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB)

Types of Certification: CNM (Nurse-Midwifery), CM (Midwifery)

Eligibility Requirements: Active RN license, satisfactory completion of a program in nurse-midwifery (a master’s program is required to sit for the CNM exam) accredited by or with pre-accreditation status from the ACMN.

Certification Process: Initial application, followed by a computer-based certification examination

Fees: $500 certification examination fee

Renewal: The certificate expires December 31st of the fifth year following the date of issue. Completion of the AMCB Certificate Maintenance Program is required in order to renew the certificate. The CMP is designed to assist CNMs/CMs to fulfill their professional responsibility to maintain competence. An annual program fee of $65 is assessed to cover the basic Certificate Maintenance Program.

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