How to Become a Nurse Midwife

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Midwifery is a medical discipline that provides prenatal and postpartum care to expecting mothers and involves delivering babies. Nurse midwives are registered nurses that are specially trained to provide midwifery services to a variety of patients.


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What does a nurse midwife do?

Nurse midwives provide primary gynecological and obstetrical care to women. They perform gynecological examinations, provide advice on family planning, provide prenatal and postpartum care, assist with labor and delivery, and provide care to newborns. They typically focus on non-invasive and natural procedures. They only administer medication if a patient requests them. Nurse midwives are often very involved in labor and delivery and are usually present through the entire process. They recognize abnormal conditions and consult with physicians to assist with delivery if needed. They provide labor and delivery care in a patient’s home as well as in hospitals and other medical facilities.

What kind of training does a nurse midwife need?

Nurse midwives need to be licensed registered nurses and completed at least a bachelor degree in nursing. Some employers prefer applicants with master degrees in nursing. Prospective nurse midwives must complete an accredited nurse-midwifery program. They complete courses in anatomy and physiology, embryology, neonatology, gynecology and obstetrics, obstetric procedures, family planning, antepartum, intrapartum, and postpartum, and breastfeeding. Most nurse midwives obtain the Certified Nurse Midwife designation from the American Midwifery Certification Board. The requirements include graduating from a nurse-midwifery program that is accredited by the American College of Nurse-Midwifes and passing a national certification examination. Some states require this national certification. Certified Nurse Midwives must complete continuing education to maintain their certifications.

What are the prospects for a career as a nurse midwife?

Employment of all registered nurses is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 23% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The growing population and increased need for midwifery services will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be excellent especially for nurse midwives with extensive experience. Many job openings will arise from the need to replace nurse midwives that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do nurse midwives make?

As of December 2009, the middle 50% of nurse midwives earn annual salaries between $82,298 and $96,968. The top 10% earn annual salaries of more than $103,141 (2).

A career as a nurse midwife is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in providing care to pregnant women and delivering babies. Nurse midwives must have a solid understanding of gynecological and obstetric care and be able to effectively perform a variety of procedures. Patience, compassion, confidence, motivation, and good judgment are essential characteristics. Nurse midwives must have excellent communication and ability to make patients feel at ease. They must be able to effectively work independently as well as part of a team. They must also be able to work under stress and pressure and make quick decisions in emergency situations.

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