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Obstetrics Nurse: Job Description & Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an obstetrics nurse. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

Obstetrics nurses assist doctors in caring for women during pregnancies and childbirth. Potential obstetrics nurses must become RNs (registered nurses) and can complete additional training to help move into the obstetrics department. Certification is also available in this field.

Required Education Associate's degree, bachelor's degree or diploma in nursing
Other Requirements RN license; Inpatient Obstetric Nursing certification available
Projected Job Growth* 19% between 2012 and 2022 (all registered nurses)
Median Wage (2014)** $30 an hour

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Job Description

Obstetrics nurses, sometimes referred to as OB nurses, specialize in assisting doctors in the care of pregnant women and in the delivery of babies. They often work in the labor and delivery department in hospitals, health clinics or doctors' offices. Obstetrics nurses work as part of a team of caregivers. They need to listen and take directions well. Attention to detail, patience and the ability to handle stress are also paramount. Strong communication and interpersonal skills are critical for succeeding in nursing careers. Common duties for obstetrics nurses include:

  • Preparing delivery rooms
  • Prepping patients
  • Sterilizing and preparing instruments
  • Caring for babies immediately after birth
  • Explaining after-birth care to new parents

Requirements for Becoming an Obstetrics Nurse

Education Requirements

To begin a career in general nursing, students need to have a high school diploma or equivalent and complete an accredited training program in nursing to become a registered nurse (RN). Hospitals offer diploma programs. Additionally, 2-year associate degrees in nursing are available at community colleges and vocational/technical schools, and universities and colleges offer 4-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs. Completing one of these programs allow graduates to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam to become RNs. Graduates of a BSN program may experience better career opportunities and may proceed to graduate school to earn advance degrees.

Becoming an OB Nurse

RNs who want to work as an OB nurse must obtain experience working in obstetrics. During training, a student may try to do their internship in an OB department of a hospital. Graduates may apply for an entry-level position in the maternity department of a hospital. They may become a doula (either before starting their nursing training or after). A doula provides non-medical support to mothers during labor and childbirth. Dona International (www.dona.org) provides doula training and certification.

Other training to consider is NRP (Neonatal Resuscitation Program), PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support) and ALSO (Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics). Becoming a member of AWHONN (Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses) may provide opportunities to network. Obtaining a position as a unit clerk on the maternity ward may help in obtaining a position as an OB nurse.

Certification for OB Nurses

NCC (National Certification Corporation) offers the Inpatient Obstetric Nursing certification for OB nurses. Applicants must have a current RN license. They must have worked in obstetrics for 24 months and have put in, at minimum, 2,000 hours. To meet experience requirements, students may include working in research, administration or patient care, as well as educational experience.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide statistical information on obstetrics nurses, but it does have info on registered nurses. In the years 2012-2022, the BLS estimates a 19% job growth for registered nurses. As of December 2014, obstetrics nurses earned a median wage of $30 an hour, according to PayScale.com. That same report indicates obstetrics nurses earned between $42,800 and $86,010 yearly.

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