The term midwife refers to one of two different kinds of professionals: nurse-midwives and direct-entry midwives. Nurse-midwives are well integrated into the U.S. healthcare system, whereas direct-entry midwives typically work outside the hospital. While the education of a direct-entry midwife varies, the path to becoming a board-certified nurse-midwife is similar to other types of advanced practice nurses.
How long does it take to become a midwife? Nurse-midwives usually spend at least 6 to 8 years in school training and qualifying for board certification.
Becoming a Midwife
First Professional Degree: BSN
Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs) are educated to the graduate level and professionally certified with the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). Their professional scope of practice is aligned with the American College of Nurse-Midwives’ (ACNM) Standards for the Practice of Midwifery. To get into specialty nurse-midwife training, it is first necessary to earn a bachelor’s in nursing. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a 4-year degree which, upon its completion, qualifies graduates to take the national NCLEX-RN examination leading to the Registered Nurse (RN) credential. As undergrads, aspiring nurse-midwives should be sure to take a college-level statistics class that covers ANOVA.
Most nurse-midwifery programs are specialized graduate tracks lasting between 2 and 3 years. Most are master’s programs and some are post-master’s certificate programs. Most recently, a midwifery specialty has been developed for the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). All programs should be accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME) or the Midwifery Education and Accreditation Council (MEAC) to guarantee they offer sufficient coursework and clinical practice to graduate students who are ready for board certification.
Applicants to nurse-midwifery programs generally need to have a BSN, current RN licensure, professional recommendations, and scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Students who want to pursue subspecialties like Cardiac or Anesthesia may have work experience requirements, too, depending on the school. Graduate study in nursing and midwifery is challenging. Dozens of semester hours and at least 500 clinical hours combine to prepare students for advanced practice. Curricula focus on core advanced nursing classes as well as specialty nurse-midwifery coursework, such as Advanced Reproductive Dynamics and Advanced Family Nursing.
Some programs offer a track awarding dual degrees in a related nurse practitioner specialty such as Family Health alongside the master’s degree in Nurse-Midwifery. Others offer dual certifications with, for instance, a nursing specialty like Women’s Health. Additionally, after graduating with their master’s degree, some nurse-midwives seek more in-depth practice through a post-master’s certificate program.
Certification and Licensure
After training, nurse-midwives pursue certification with the AMCB, formerly known as the ACNM Certification Council. They also need a state license to practice. In some states, nurse-midwives are simply registered as Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners (ARNPs). A graduate degree in advanced nursing practice is required for state licensure. It can often be either a master’s degree or a post-master’s certificate as long as it is properly accredited. Applicants must also pass the comprehensive examination administered by North American Registry of Midwives (NARM).