Difference Between Midwife & Nurse

Nurses and midwives provide important medical care for their patients, but they may focus on different types of medical needs and have different training requirements. This article compares the professions in greater detail.

Comparing Midwife to Nurse

Midwives and nurses work in the medical field and provide care to patients, but midwives are nurses who have additional specialized training. They focus on treating the medical needs of women and they deliver babies. Nurses can assist with the medical care of patients of any age, and they typically follow the orders of a doctor or nurse practitioner.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary* (2016) Job Outlook* (2014-2024)
Nurse Midwife Master's Degree $99,770 25%
Registered Nurse Diploma, Associate Degree or Bachelor's Degree $68,450 16%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Midwife vs Nurse

Nurses provide a variety of medical care to patients. They follow the patients' treatment plan as determined by a doctor or nurse practitioner, and they ensure that patients receive the right medications and care. Midwives are also nurses, but they must have a master's degree due to their specialized training. Midwives specifically focus on providing medical care to women who are pregnant, by treating health issues during gestation and delivering babies. While nurses may assist other medical professionals with tests, nurse midwives can order tests for their patients and they are also capable of diagnosing their medical condition.


Nurse midwives specialize in the medical needs of women and they deliver babies. Like most medical professionals, they also need to be licensed to work as a nurse midwife. Nurse midwives are one of the nursing specialties included in the category of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and in addition to their degree and license they must also have national certification. They typically work in doctor's offices or hospitals, and their hours may vary depending on where they work and include on-call hours in case a patient goes into labor.

Job responsibilities of a midwife include:

  • Examine patients
  • Provide info about prenatal nutrition and disease prevention
  • Update patient records
  • Assist surgeons during cesarean sections
  • Handle any emergency situations during delivery
  • Monitor mothers and babies after delivery


The majority of registered nurses work in hospitals, and these nurses may be required to work any day of the week and be scheduled for day, evening or overnight shifts. A nursing license is required. Registered nurses can choose between completing a diploma, bachelor's degree or associate's degree in nursing before they begin their career. Their work can be physically demanding, and they must be able to work on their feet for long periods of time. They also need to be thorough in their work so that they can identify even minor changes in a patient's condition.

Job responsibilities of a nurse include:

  • Check on patients
  • Give medications to patients
  • Update patient records
  • Prepare patients to be discharged
  • Report concerns to other medical staff

Related Careers

If you're considering studies to become a nurse midwife you may also be interested in exploring a career as a physician assistant, because physician assistants also provide direct patient care and diagnose patients. If a nursing career is your primary interest, you may also find that a career as a paramedic is appealing, because paramedics assess the medical condition of patients who are ill or injured and treat their condition while transporting the patient to a hospital.

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