How To Become a Certified Midwife

Shahzad Masood

Certified Midwife

A career in midwifery offers valuable and unique care to women during their pregnancy. Becoming a certified midwife can be achieved through online midwifery programs, which provide accessible and flexible schedules. Learn more about the steps involved in becoming a certified midwife and why online programs might be the right choice for you:  

Graduate With a B.S.N. Degree 

Certified Nurse-Midwives, or CNMs, differ from standard midwives because they require a nursing degree. Prospective certified midwives start their training by obtaining a Bachelor of Science in nursing, which typically takes four years to complete. A nursing degree trains students in anatomy, physiology, and microbiology. These areas form a strong foundation for pursuing midwifery. 

Obtain a Nursing License

Most midwife programs require candidates to have their registered nurse license. To receive this, you must complete an accredited program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). After passing, submit your transcripts, application, and fee to the state board to obtain the license. Some states also require clinical hours.  

Gain Practical Experience 

Most midwifery programs require professional nursing experience before getting an advanced degree. Those interested in a nurse-midwife program might want to work as an OB-GYN nurse. This provides hands-on experience and an opportunity to become familiar with the specialization of prenatal care and childbirth. Working with an OB-GYN will also provide opportunities to learn more about reproductive care and other clinical skills needed for a midwife career. 

Earn an Advanced Nursing Degree 

Certified Nurse-Midwives must have a graduate-level degree in nursing accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education. Qualifying degrees are a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN.) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) with a nurse-midwifery concentration. The master’s program usually takes 18-24 months to complete, and the DNP can take between three and four years. 

Some bridge programs offer a fast track to complete the master’s option after receiving your bachelor’s degree. There are also online midwifery programs to fit your schedule. Online options include remote classwork and the ability to partner with local providers for clinical experience. 

Receive Certified Nurse-Midwife Certification 

Obtaining formal credentials is one of the last steps in becoming a midwife and is required by most healthcare institutions for employment. Certification for a nurse-midwife is administered through the American Midwifery Certification Board and requires an exam. The exam is designed to evaluate your knowledge of performing midwifery care and consists of questions related to professional standards, ethics, and clinical topics. This computerized test must be taken and passed within two years of finishing your graduate program. 

Certified Nurse midwives must maintain certification by retaking the examination before the five-year expiration or by completing the approved Certificate Maintenance Modules. The latter option also involves twenty hours of continuing education courses. Certificate maintenance shows that CNMs are updated on current midwifery care and areas of practice, such as gynecology, newborn, and obstetrics. 

Become an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse 

Midwives are classified as Advanced Practice Registered Nurses in many states. This status requires special licensure, including the CRM certification. Registered nurse licensure and a graduate-level nursing degree are also typically required. 

Additional Midwife Certifications 

Most states and healthcare institutions see Certified Nurse-Midwives as the preferred midwife certification, but other options are available. The Certified Midwife (CM) credential does not require being a registered nurse but does need a graduate degree. A Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) is certified by the North American Registry of Midwives and does not require an academic degree, instead mandating an accredited midwifery program. These alternative options are not as widely recognized but may be the right fit if accepted in your jurisdiction. 

Research Online Midwifery Programs 

Online midwifery programs offer flexibility for registered nurses looking to specialize in women’s care. Choosing an online program also provides access to top resources and instructors that may not be available with a local in-person option. When researching online midwifery programs, possible decision points might include: 

  • Pass and dropout rates
  • Experience of faculty members 
  • Types of training and opportunities available 
  • Requirements for acceptance 
  • Preparation for certification exams
  • Student-to-teacher ratio

Becoming a CNM can advance your career, even if you choose not to practice bedside. If you’re looking for a compassionate and fulfilling career, becoming a Certified Nurse-Midwife may be the right choice.

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