Advancement Opportunities for OB Nurses

Jun 12, 2018

OB nurses are registered nurses who specialize in caring for mothers before, during, and after the labor and delivery process. After working in the field, OB nurses may wish to consider other professions that allow them to specialize in working with mothers or newborns.

Career Growth Opportunities for OB Nurses

Obstetrics nurses play a crucial role in caring for pregnant women during the delivery of their baby and in the care of newborns. They maintain charts during labor and delivery and assist women with questions concerning the care of their newborns. OB nurses are registered nurses, and typically work at hospitals. Nurses who enjoy this field may consider obtaining additional education to increase their options in terms of specializing in working with mothers and babies.

Job Title Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2016-2026)* Education or Credentials
Nurse Midwife $100,590 21% Master's degree
Nurse Anesthetist $165,120 16% Master's degree
Obstetrics/Gynecology Physician $340,691 16% Medical degree and residency
Neonatology Physician $203,126 (2018)** 15% (pediatricians) Medical degree, residency, and fellowship

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **PayScale

Career Information

Nurse Midwife

Nurses who specialize in providing obstetric care have assisted in many births. Obtaining additional training in order to become a certified nurse midwife would be a next step that would enable these nurses to provide this care on a higher level. Nurse midwives are primary caregivers for a full range of obstetric and gynecological care to women. They provide prenatal care, deliver infants, and care for the needs of the mother before and after birth. Nurse midwives might work in a hospital or in a free-standing birth center. To become a midwife, a candidate must typically have a bachelor's degree and registered nurse credential, and then complete a master's degree program.

Nurse Anesthetist

Obstetric nurses who have worked with laboring women are likely familiar with the work of nurse anesthetists, and gaining additional education to take on this role would be a positive step. Nurse anesthetists provide nursing care related to the relief of pain during labor or other medical procedures. They must have full understanding of the relationships of anesthesia medications and other medications the patient may be taking. The nurse anesthetist will stay with the patient to provide monitoring until anesthesia is no longer needed. To become a nurse anesthetist, one must already be a nurse with a bachelor's degree, and then complete a master's degree program. They must then sit for the National Certification Exam of the National Board for Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists.

Obstetrics/Gynecology Physician

Some obstetrics nurses may wish to pursue additional education to become an obstetrician/gynecologist. OB/GYNs are medical doctors. They specialize in providing reproductive care for women. Specifically, they treat women throughout pregnancy and deliver babies. They offer counseling in terms of prenatal and reproductive health. OB/GYNs also provide well screenings and care for obstetric cancers and other disorders. To become an OB/GYN, one must attend medical school, which is typically four years, and then complete a residency in obstetrics and gynecology. Candidates must then pass a national examination. If board certification is sought, the length of residency may be extended.

Neonatology Physician

OB nurses may have extensive experience with infants who are premature or who suffer from birth defects. Those who wish to work more closely with these infants may consider a career as a neonatologist. Neonatologists are specialized physicians who work primarily with infants with serious health concerns. They usually work in neonatal care units within hospitals. Neonatologists are typically present in delivery rooms to provide immediate assistance and evaluation to newborns if it is known to expect challenges. They then continue to provide care throughout the hospital stay. To become a neonatologist, one must attend medical school, complete a residency in pediatrics, and a fellowship in neonatology.

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