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Nurse midwifery goes back to the late 1800s and early 1900s.  In early America, this type of nurse  played a major role in the home births that were common of the time period.  The American Association of Nursing Midwives was officially established in 1941, making this formal nursing field.  Nurse midwives provide a wide range of women’s health services.

They can deliver babies, but they are also able to provide almost all aspects of prenatal, perinatal and postnatal care.  This type of nurse is certified and is considered an advanced practice nurse.

Nurse Midwife

Nurse Midwife Salary

The median annual salary for a certified nurse midwife is $92,345.  The lowest 10 percent earn an average of $76,830 per year and the top 10 percent earn an average of $108,293 per year.

Your salary will vary greatly throughout different areas of the country.  Under-served areas, such as major metropolitan areas and rural areas may pay higher due to the high demand for this type of nurse.  Your level of experience, level of education, employer and job description will also greatly impact your earning power.

Nurse Midwife Job Description

A nurse midwife takes on a wide variety of roles and responsibilities.  These can include:

  • Specialty and primary care for women
  • Management, diagnosis and treatment of chronic and acute illnesses affecting women
  • Interpreting medical history and conducting physical examinations
  • Using diagnostic procedures and testing to manage and order care
  • Attending to pregnancy-related issues and delivering babies
  • Providing care to women of all ages, including newborns, adolescents, women in their child-bearing years and those past menopause
  • Prescribing medications
  • Educating and counseling clients

Nurse midwives work in a variety of settings because they provide more than just pregnancy-related care.  Common environments for nurse midwives includes:

  • Major hospital obstetrical units
  • Clinics
  • Doctor’s offices
  • Free and discount health clinics
  • Home healthcare
  • Ambulatory care centers
  • Fertility clinics

Nurse Midwife Education

The certified nurse midwife must at least obtain a master’s degree in nursing.  He or she will follow a a track similar to that of a nurse practitioner.  An example of the courses taken can include the following:

  • Life-saving skills for newborns and women
  • Advanced health promotion and health assessment (includes 30 contact hours)
  • Advanced pharmacological applications for primary care
  • Health policy and ethical considerations in advanced practice nursing
  • Primary care of women and newborns (clinical component of 150 clinical hours)
  • Primary care, antepartum and newborn care
  • Management of gynecologic health
  • Scholarly project of thesis
  • Advanced nursing practice functions and roles
  • Management of gynecological clinical practicum (150 clinical hours)
  • Primary care of women II
  • Scholarly project or thesis
  • Systems leadership and organizations for quality care
  • Pharmacotherapy in advanced practice nursing seminar
  • Intrapartum care
  • Intrapartum care clinical (150 clinical hours)
  • Scholarly project or thesis
  • Global health for clinicians
  • Transition to midwifery practice (240 clinical hours)

On average, when you pursue this degree on a full-time basis you will need approximately three years to complete it.  The average program will require 72 to 78 credits and approximately 690 clinical hours.  Keep in mind that different schools may set forth different requirements and clinical requirements may vary by state.  It is important to contact your State Board of Nursing to ensure that your chosen school is offering enough clinical hours to satisfy your state’s rules and regulations.

To be accepted into a midwifery program, most schools will require that you have at least a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.  However, there are Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) bridge programs available.  Some of these will prefer or require that you have at least your ADN and a bachelor’s degree in another field, but some will take an ADN alone.  You may or may not need to have experience in nursing, especially as related to obstetrics and women’s health.  Schools that do require experience generally require at least one year of registered nursing experience.  All schools will require that you have an active and current registered nursing license.

Nurse Midwife Certification and Licensing

The American Midwifery Certification Board is the body that grants the Certified Nurse Midwife certification.  First-time applicants will be required to pay a $500 fee and the examination can only be taken four times.  Once you complete your accredited midwifery program, this examination must be taken within 24 months.  You must also hold a current registered nursing license.

Your certification will be good for five years and will expire on December 31 of your expiration year.  During the five-year certification cycle, you must complete 20 contact hours, three AMCB Certificate Maintenance Modules and pay all applicable fees.  You must do at least one Certificate Maintenance Module in one of the following:

  • Primary and antepartum care of the pregnant woman
  • Primary care and gynecology for the well-woman
  • Intrapartum, postpartum and newborn

Nurse Midwife Job Outlook

Jobs for certified nurse midwives are expected to grow by 26 percent between 2010 and 2020.  This is largely due to the level of responsibility that this type of nurse can take on.  In many cases, he or she can be a woman’s sole healthcare provider, which saves hospitals and clinics a significant amount of money.

It is estimated that a nurse midwife will deliver every one out of 10 babies born in the United States each year.  This means that nurse midwives are delivering three percent more babies than they were just 10 years ago.  Throughout the world, this type of nurse will deliver more than two-thirds of all babies born.  The demand for certified nurse midwives has increased due to this type of nurse being found responsible for the following:

  • Reduced rates of Cesarean births
  • Major decrease in perineal tears of the third and fourth degree
  • Higher rates of breastfeeding
  • Reduced rates of labor augmentation and induction
  • Reduced use of regional anesthesia

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