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If the word “midwife” still reminds you of period movies where a tough old lady shouts out “Boil some water and bring me some rags,” we have some news for you – midwives didn’t disappear when your great-grandparents moved to the city. Midwives have an important place in modern medicine, providing more personal and sympathetic care than the conventional OBGYN, and providing as much or as little conventional medical procedure as a mother may want. Midwives today mix age-old methods with modern medicine to give their patients the best of both worlds.

What career could be more fulfilling than bringing life into the world while easing the pain and anxiety of an expectant mother?

Education

Midwifery programs leading to a CNM or CM (Certified Nurse Midwife or Certified Midwife) involve graduate school. Usually acceptance into a graduate program will require an existing bachelor’s degree; however, some programs will grant acceptance if you have a R.N. (Registered Nurse) credential at the associate’s level. Honestly, majoring in Nursing is the most efficient route when pursuing a career in midwifery here in the United States. For current RNs, there are several affordable online RN to BSN programs to peruse to help you decide your educational path.

General coursework in a Midwifery program include:

  • Basic Sciences (Chemistry, Biology, Microbiology)
  • Sociology
  • Women’s Studies
  • Nursing

You will be awarded a master’s degree upon completion of your midwifery program. You may then consider going for a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Certification

Certified Midwives are registered nurses who have graduated from a college program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME) and have passed a national exam leading to professional certification. Midwives have been practicing with these credentials since the 1920’s.

Job Expectation

Midwives are important in a women’s healthcare. They not only deliver babies and comfort mothers during labor; they continue that role and support the mother with her newborn child with follow up visits and general gynecological services. Essentially you will become a specialized Nurse who is well trained in caring for infants, most importantly in the first six weeks of life.

All Nurse-Midwifery/Midwifery programs accredited by ACME will teach students how to conduct births outside of a hospital setting. These settings might be a birthing center or a home. Midwifery programs vary considerably, so make sure to find programs that suit your career goals and expectations.

Actually CNM’s and CM’s work in all kinds of settings. Of course we have hospitals and birthing centers, but they also work for health clinics, and private practices. CNM’s have legal authority to work in any state but some states are not as friendly to CNM’s/CM’s, and that can greatly limit job opportunities. Currently five states nationally have been fully supporting this certification and making a conscious effort to support the field of Midwifery. Those states are: Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Missouri and Rhode Island. Most CM’s are practicing in NY.

Outlook

Midwives has seen a resurgence in recent years. Expectant mothers today are much more engaged and informed than women in the past about their options, and are interested in other means of delivery than the conventional hospital route. In response, many hospitals are implementing birthing centers on their campuses or sharing Labor and Delivery departments with OB’s (Obstetrician). CNM salaries can vary completely based on geographical location and experience level. According to data received by the ACNM (American College of Nurse-Midwives) median salary is between $79k-$89k for full time employment.