What is a Nurse Midwife?
A certified nurse midwife, or CNM, is a registered nurse who has completed a graduate nursing degree, such as a CNM master's degree or a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, and passed a national certification exam, in order to offer independent services as a licensed health care practitioner to women. In every state in the U.S., CNMs offer a range of health care services and vital support for women.
You may be familiar with the role of a nurse midwife in terms of childbearing, and this is a very important part of the function of nurse midwives. In 2014, CNMs attended over 332,000 births, accounting for 12% of all non-surgical births in the United States. This is more than double the number of births attended by midwives just fifteen years earlier. Nurse midwives deliver babies in a variety of locations, including at hospitals, in freestanding birth centers, and at home births. Nurse midwives typically provide the pre- and post-natal care for the mothers whose babies they deliver. Labor and delivery care by nurse midwives is associated with fewer invasive medical interventions, less chance of cesarean birth, higher patient satisfaction, and lower cost.
However, childbirth is not the only role of the certified nurse midwife, who is qualified as a primary health care provider. Should you choose this role, you would also be providing well-visits for gynecological care, counseling for birth control and other heath conditions, and supporting new mothers as they care for their infants. CNMs also may prescribe medication in all states.
Certified Nurse Midwife Salary
The salaries for nurse midwives with master's degrees are typically higher than those for other nursing professions, like registered nurses. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for a nurse midwife in 2016 was $100,590 (compared to $70,000 for a registered nurse). The median nurse midwife hourly wage comes in at $48.36. Several factors can affect your overall compensation, including your location, type of practice setting (birth center versus hospital), and compensation policies for time spent 'on-call.'
Certified Nurse Midwife Salary by State
Compensation for nurse midwives will vary by state of practice. For states with salary information available, the highest paid nurse midwives are found in California, where the mean salary is $132,480 according to the BLS. The lowest paid nurse midwives are found in Missouri, where the mean salary is $69,450.
Midwife vs. Nurse Salary
As addressed above, because of the differences between a nurse midwife and a registered nurse, a nurse midwife can expect an overall higher salary than an RN. Factors which account for this differential include the extensive training at the master's or doctoral level required for certification as a nurse midwife and the role of the nurse midwife as a primary caregiver.
Certified Nurse Midwife Job Outlook
In 2016-2026, the BLS anticipates a 21% growth in the number of midwives. Many factors account for this above-average growth, including changes in state regulations allowing midwives to act as primary caregivers to women, the lower cost of birth associated with the use of a nurse midwife, and the desire of some childbearing women to give birth naturally.