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Nurse Midwife: Career and Education Profile

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a nurse midwife. Get an overview of the requirements - including job duties, degree programs and licensing - to see if this is the career choice for you.

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A nurse midwife assists in the process of childbirth, from before to after a baby is born. They are typically registered nurses who complete additional coursework to earn this credential. Nurse midwives should be certified and licensed.

Essential Information

Nurse midwives assist women before, during and after childbirth. They often provide more one-on-one time with patients and offer a more personalized style of health care management. Both women and men can become nurse midwives, but it usually requires first being a licensed medical practitioner. After completing a nurse midwifery program, individuals must pass credential and state license exams.

Required Education Master's degree
Other Requirements American Midwifery Certificate Board certification, state license
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 25% for nurse midwives
Median Salary (2015)* $92,510 for nurse midwives

Source:*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Profile

A nurse midwife is usually a registered nurse who has taken specialized coursework and earned a credential in nurse midwifery. Nurse midwives often teach women about healthy diet and exercise programs to maintain during and after pregnancy. Midwives can recommend dietary supplements for different stages of pregnancy.

Midwives deliver babies in hospitals or certified birthing centers. They may also deliver babies in private homes or specialize in alternative birthing environments, such as water births. After the baby has been born, midwives instruct new mothers on breast-feeding techniques and how to care for the baby. Midwives also provide new mothers with information on ways to handle postpartum depression.

Although midwives are most commonly associated with helping pregnant women, they also care for women in general. Midwives conduct tests and screenings for women's diseases, such as cervical cancer. Midwives also educate women about preventing sexually transmitted diseases. In terms of preventative and long term care, midwives can prescribe medications, such as birth control, hormonal treatments and pain medicine.

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Education Requirements

Certified nurse midwife (CNM) programs are all graduate level programs. Although these programs are designed for currently working registered nurses and other licensed medical practitioners, some programs will accept applicants who only have a bachelor's degree. Nurse midwifery coursework includes pregnancy management, high-risk pregnancy, health assessment and primary care nursing. Many programs require supervised clinical hours where students treat female patients and deliver babies.

Certification and Licensing

The majority of CNM programs are designed to make students eligible for certification exams. Trade organizations, such as the American Midwifery Certificate Board (AMCB), offer certification exams for nurse midwives. Most exams ask questions about antepartum treatments, newborns, postpartum care, women's health and midwifery health care laws.

Upon successfully passing the credential exam, individuals are usually allowed to apply for a state license. Some states have additional requirements besides the credential exam, including education levels, years of experience and more exams. As with most medical licenses, certified nurse midwives have to participate in continued education coursework in order to renew their licenses.

Salary Information and Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that nurse midwives will have a faster than average employment growth for the 2014-2024 decade of 25 percent. Nurse midwives earned an median annual salary of $92,510 in 2015, according to the BLS.

Nurse midwives can have many duties, which vary by patient. A nurse midwife must have experience as a registered nurse, complete a nurse-midwifery program, and then obtain. They must be licensed, which usually requires experience and passing an exam.

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