Nurse Midwife Programs
Nurse Midwifery programs are structured to provide advanced academic and clinical instruction in all aspects of pregnancy, childbirth, newborn care and more. Midwifery as practiced by certified nurse-midwives (CNMs®) and certified midwives (CMs®) spans a full range of primary health care services for women from adolescence to beyond menopause.
What Might I Learn in Nurse Midwifery Graduate Programs?
Curriculums for nurse midwife programs might stack general medical sciences courses onto specific courses in fetal development and physical assessment of women. Students enrolled in Nurse Midwifery Programs also study to gain the skills needed to deliver babies and manage their care in the first weeks of life.
Nurse Midwifery Programs: How to Become a Nurse Midwife
By definition, masters level nurse midwifery programs are graduate level degree programs that seek to prepare individuals to become certified nurse midwives. As of 2010, completion of a graduate midwife program became an added requirement for certification and entry into clinical practice. Furthermore, per the ACNM, which is the professional organization for certified nurse-midwives and certified midwives, “standards for education and certification in midwifery are identical for CNMs and CMs.”
The ACNM also lists the two primary categories of midwives in the United States as (1) Certified nurse-midwives and (2) direct-entry midwives. Nurse-midwives might enter the field after they receive formal education in nursing, while direct-entry midwives typically enter directly into the field. Interested students should use career goals and their current level of education and clinical experience to choose a suitable degree pathway and midwifery school.
Nurse Midwife Degrees
Accredited nurse midwifery graduate programs may award Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and post-master’s certificates. Additionally, some accredited nursing schools might offer a joint program in nurse midwifery and women’s health nurse practitioner.
Master of Science in Nurse Midwifery Programs
Nurse midwifery graduate programs may lead to a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Master of Science in Midwifery. In some schools, students may work to earn their MSN, then seamlessly continue to pursue their DNP.
Master of Science in Midwifery programs could lead to both a MS degree and eligibility to sit for the American Midwifery Certification Board(amcb) exam. These programs may be available in 2-year full time and 3-year part time formats. In either format though, midwifery students may need to complete their clinical rotations on a full-time basis.
Admission requirements for Nurse Midwifery Programs often vary as students enter these programs with diverse educational backgrounds. Generally, applicants to a masters in midwifery program need a current registered nurse license as well as educational preparation from a nationally accredited nursing program (CCNE or ACEN).
Often this means that a student is a Registered Nurse with a BSN degree or higher. However, some schools make provisions for those who have a diploma or have graduated from an associate degree nursing (ADN) program. Each of these scenarios could entail other requirements and students should consult individual nurse midwifery schools for details.
Aside from transcripts and a minimum GPA set by the university, other material that may need to be furnished in an application could include the items listed below:
- Active RN license in the United States with no encumbrances. Also, if assignment to a clinical practice site requires that the student practice in another state, then the student may be required to meet license requirements related to statutes and obtain the appropriate license.
- Have one year of Registered Nursing Clincial Experience. However, in some cases, RNs with less than one year of RN experience might be able to provide details of other experience in health care which might cover work as a doula, childbirth educator, and/or lactation consultant.
- TOEFL scores as needed.
- Coursework in statistics and physical assessment (PA).
Nurse Midwifery Program Curriculum
MSN-Nurse Midwifery curriculums generally cover four areas: (1) foundations for midwifery practice, (2) clinical management for Midwifery, (3) clinical skills, (4) clinical practicums. Level one foundation courses tend to be shared by all participants in a MSN degree program.
These topics often cover the following six types of core topics:
- Health promotion
- Epidemiology and statistics
- Evidence-based practice
- Advanced pathophysiology
- Advanced health assessment
Level two courses center around women’s health and the role of the nurse midwife. These courses usually make up a substantial component of an MSN in Nurse Midwife degree program.
Some examples of possible nurse midwifery program topics include:
- Primary care of women
- Midwifery care (labor and birth)
- Midwifery care (pregnancy)
- Midwifery care (postpartum women, newborns)
- Advanced midwifery care (childbearing women, newborns)
Levels three and four usually cover clinical aspects of midwifery. Students might therefore study to gain skills for advanced practice and nurse-midwifery care. A course that covers the principles of independent practice might then lead into nurse midwifery clinical practicums.
While completing their midwifery masters programs, nurse midwives may need to pass a final comprehensive review, after they have completed their didactic and clinical credits. In some nurse midwife schools, the MSN might require about 64 credits. Some midwifery students might continue their studies with a companion DNP curriculum.
Master’s in Midwifery Completion Programs
MS in Midwifery Completion programs are those that could allow current certified nurse-midwife or certified midwife professionals to validate and enhance the professional competencies and skills needed for today’s healthcare environment. This degree may be designed to a student’s area of interest: teaching, advanced clinical practice, administration, international health or research.
Nurse Midwifery-Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Programs
A Nurse-Midwifery/Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (NM/WHNP) program intends to prepare registered nurses to manage a woman’s normal obstetrical and gynecological needs during the childbearing years, manage the care of the newborn, and provide primary care to women throughout the lifespan. This type of program could prepare graduates to take AMCB certification exams as well as Board Certification for WHNPs through the National Certification Corporation (NCC).
DNP – Nurse Midwife
A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a terminal practice degree for nurses. The admission requirements for DNP Nurse Midwife programs could differ. Some applicants may be RNs with a BSN degree. Others may earn their MSN in Nurse Midwife with an option to roll their credits into a DNP. These midwifery students might need to complete extra academic and clinical credits to earn their graduate degree in midwifery, although fewer credits than a student who entered with a Bachelors degree.
Curriculums for a DNP program could cover some of the topics that follow:
- Nurse as educator
- Leadership and organizational dynamics
- Health policy and advocacy
- Clinical scholarship
Aside from courses, a DNP Nurse Midwifery program typically requires a research project or dissertation.
Doctor of Midwifery Programs
Professional Doctor of Midwifery Programs are designed to develop leadership skills for mid-career midwives. Students typically spend a significant portion of their program engaged in research where they actively address a real issue or question in the field of midwifery or women’s health. Their goal is often to advance clinical practice, education, policy or administration through the application or the results of current research.
Applicants may need to have earned a graduate degree or higher (E.g. MS, MSc, MSN, MPH) and have graduated from an accredited midwifery program. Aside from these requirements, midwifery students may need to furnish a writing sample, letters, statement, national certification or registration in midwifery. Graduate level statistics is often necessary.
Midwifery Post-Masters Certificate
A Post-Master’s Certificate program in Nurse Midwifery is usually intended for registered nurses who hold a Master of Science in Nursing and are nationally certified Women’s Health, Adult or Family nurse practitioners. Graduates may be eligible to take the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) national certification exam.
Curriculums generally balance theory with practice, and students may need to complete about 30 credits of academics as well as about 630 clinical hours (may vary). Course topics could cover main issues like gynecological care and childbearing as well as mental health, intimate partner violence and addictive behaviors in women.
Certified Nurse Midwife vs. Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
Some of the education received by certified nurse midwives (CNMs) and women’s health nurse practitioners (WHNPs) might overlap but they are not entirely the same. In terms of shared duties, CNMs and WHNPs could both care for the health of women in a clinical environment. WHNPs and CNMs conduct physical assessments, record medical histories, educate women on effective self-care, and provide medical treatment to their patients. That stated, in their practice, CNMs tend to provide medical care to women of childbearing age, pregnant women, and newborn babies. By comparison, WHNPs might provide general and reproductive health care to women across the life span, from menarche on to old age.
What Is a CNM?
A Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) is a primary healthcare provider to women and newborns. CNMs are licensed, independent healthcare providers with prescriptive authority. Certified nurse midwives perform such services as regular gynecological checkups, pap smears, contraception and preconception advising, sexual health education, and family health planning. They also offer medical care and treatment to low-risk pregnant women during pregnancy, labor, and the postpartum period.
Is an OBGYN the same as a midwife?
CNMs are not medical doctors and may offer holistic care. They also deliver babies and are sometimes called on to provide surgical assistance to physicians during cesarean births, however they have not earned a medical degree or license.
What Is a Certified Midwife?
Certified Midwives (CMs) are professionals who are trained exclusively in midwifery through academics and apprenticeship, by direct entry. Direct entry midwives may be licensed to practice home birth. They may also provide care to a woman from the onset of her (normal) pregnancy through delivery and the postpartum period for both mother and newborn. To pursue licensure, RMs may need to graduate from a program approved by the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC).
Do Midwives Need to Be Licensed?
A nurse midwife has an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) license, and has secured a second license to be able to practice in this role. Students who successfully earn a graduate degree in midwifery through a Nurse Midwife Program could pursue certification through the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). The AMCB offers both the Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) ® and Certified Midwife (CM) ® certifications.
Accreditation for Nurse Midwifery Programs
The Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (under ‘Health-Care’) as a programmatic accrediting agency for midwifery education programs since 1982.
Nurse Midwifery Program Formats
Do you prefer to study at a local nurse midwife school? Are you an at-work nurse who needs a convenient format? Would you prefer to study independently but don’t want to sacrifice face-to-face interaction? Nurse Midwifery Programs may be found in three formats: online, on-campus and hybrid (blended).
Possible nurse midwifery program formats:
- Online programs may enable midwifery students to take all the academic courses online with clinical practicums in their local community.
- On-campus programs may be a great way to build professional contacts, find a mentor, and learn through hands-on practice and lively in-class discussion. Plus, you could look for nurse midwifery schools in a specific city or state.
- Hybrid programs could blend some of each, online courses with synchronous or asynchronous delivery and on-campus requirements.
Whatever your preference, these filters could help you find a program that mirrors your learning style.
Employment Outlook for Nurse Midwives
Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment of nurse midwives is projected to grow by 21 percent from 2016 to 2026. The average annual salary for nurse midwives, based on BLS data from May 2016 was $99,770. Areas with the highest levels of employment for nurse midwives include physicians’ offices, general medical and surgical hospitals, offices of other health practitioners, outpatient care centers and schools.ix
Take the Next Step with our List of 1 Nurse Midwifery Programs in Philadelphia
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Frontier Nursing University