Virginia Campus Master of Science in Midwifery Degrees
A local campus Master of Science in Midwifery program positions participants to greatly improve the quality and breadth of maternity care offered to women and their families. Explore local college Masters in Midwifery on GradSchools.com the leading Graduate Programs website for campus based Masters Degrees in Nursing.
A midwife is a trained and certified professional who provides care to women across the lifespan. However, according to the Midwives Alliance of North America, midwives are specialists in pregnancy, birth, and post-partum care who design complete programs of care to nurture healthy pregnancy, joyful birthing, and confident parenting[i]. Midwives have the skills and knowledge to facilitate healthy normal childbirth, to assure comfort and safety for mothers and their babies, and to accommodate mothers’ families’ needs[i]. In addition, midwives have “a plan for collaboration with obstetricians, pediatricians, and other specialists in the rare case” when medical care for mothers or babies is needed[i].
There are three primary types of midwives: Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs), Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs), and Certified Midwives (CMs).
- A Certified Professional Midwife is a knowledgeable, skilled, and professional independent practitioner who has met the standards for certification set by the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM) and is qualified to provide the midwifery model of care (described below). The CPM is the only title that requires midwives to have knowledge about and experience in out-of-hospital settings[ii].
- A Certified Nurse Midwife is educated in the disciplines of nursing and midwifery and is certified according to the requirements of the American College of Nurse-Midwives[ii]. This type of midwife does not necessarily have to have training and experience in providing
- out-of-hospital care.
- A Certified Midwife is educated in the discipline of midwifery and is certified according to the requirements of the American College of Nurse-Midwives[ii]. This type of midwife does not necessarily have to have training and experience in providing out-of-hospital care.
Countries throughout the world utilize midwives as primary care providers for women, and midwives devote their time, resources, and skillsets to empowering women and their families. Midwives especially emphasize providing “women with individualized care uniquely suited to their physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and cultural needs[iii].”
What Does a Midwife Do?
The role of a midwife depends on his or her training, certification, and experience. However, the Midwives Alliance outlines a woman-centered, Midwives Model of Care™ that describes the primary roles of midwives across disciplines[i]:
- Midwives monitor the physical, psychological, and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle
- Midwives provide mothers with individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care; continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery; and postpartum support
- Midwives minimalize technological interventions and invasive procedures
- Midwives identify and refer women to obstetricians when appropriate
According to the Midwifery task force, this Midwives Model of Care™ has proven to reduce incidence of birth injury, trauma, and cesarean section[i].
In addition, midwives across disciplines share more general skills and responsibilities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurse practitioners (NPs), nurse anesthetics (CRNAs), and nurse midwives’ (CNMs) share the following primary tasks[iv]:
- They take and record patients' medical histories and symptoms and set up plans for patients’ care or contribute to existing plans
- They perform physical exams
- They observe patients and diagnose various health problems
- They perform and order diagnostic tests and analyze results
- They give patients medicines and treatments
- They consult with doctors and other healthcare professionals as needed
- They operate and monitor medical equipment
- They provide counseling and teach patients and their families how to stay healthy or manage their illnesses or injuries
- They conduct research in the areas of nursing and the birthing process
What is the Difference between a Midwife and a Nurse Midwife?
The primary difference between a midwife and nurse midwife is quite simple: midwives gain education, training, and certification that specifically helps prepare them to work as midwives while nurse midwives gain education, training, and certification in nursing and then earn the credentials of a midwife. Accordingly, nurse midwives typically earn a graduate degree in nursing with a certificate or emphasis in midwifery, while non-nurse midwives typically enter the field after earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree in midwifery.
To help prepare midwives and nurse midwives to pursue careers in the field, there are several primary entities that provide resources, education, and certification: the North American Registry of Midwives, the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council, the American Midwifery Certification Board, the American College of Nurse-Midwives, and the Midwives Alliance of North America. These entities, together with state governments, establish the laws and guidelines that dictate the primary tasks that can and cannot be legally performed by Certified Professional Midwives, Certified Midwives, and Certified Nurse Midwives in or out of hospital settings. States especially determine which types of midwives can administer certain medications, perform certain procedures, and deliver particular care in the state. Each midwife, no matter his or her certification and training, must be clear of his or her duties, responsibilities, and scope of practice in the state in which he or she works.
The primary certification agency for midwives is the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). The standards for certification are set by the North American Registry of Midwives. To earn certification, midwives must have degrees appropriate for their level of certification from a school accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education, an entity of the American College of Nurse Midwives. During the certification process, midwives test at the level of certification for which they’re applying and also secure state licensure. Once they have both, they can practice within the scope of their certification and licensure.
Important Qualities and Skills for Midwives
When asking the question, “what is a midwife?” one must consider much more than a midwife’s medical role before, during, and after birth. The field is one dependent upon a midwife’s ability to facilitate personal connection and professional intimacy while also providing high quality and personalized care. Midwives should be compassionate, caring, and communicative. They should enjoy working with others and be able to lead, direct, and teach others. They must be able to make decisions, stay calm, and solve problems. And, they must be organized, resourceful, and detail oriented.
According to the Midwives Alliance of North America, the Midwives Model of Care™ is woman-centered and takes a “fundamentally different approach to pregnancy and childbirth than contemporary obstetrics. Midwifery care is uniquely nurturing, hands-on care before, during, and after birth. Midwives are health care professionals specializing in pregnancy and childbirth who develop a trusting relationship with their clients, which results in confident, supported labor and birth[i].”
[i] mana.org/about-midwives/midwifery-model | [ii] mana.org/index.php?q=about-midwives/become-a-midwife | [iii] mana.org/about-midwives/what-is-a-midwife | [iv] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm#tab-2
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