Certified Nurse Midwife

What Is a Certified Nurse Midwife?

Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs), sometimes referred to as simply nurse midwives, do so much more than just delivering babies. These nurses are advanced-practice registered nurses (APRNs) who specialize in women's reproductive health and childbirth. CNMs care for women during their pregnancies, childbirth, and postpartum, performing things like gynecological check-ups, family planning, assisting physicians during C-section births, and more. Although their approaches differ, CNMs - in some ways - offer similar care to that of OB/GYN doctors, women's health nurse practitioners, and labor and delivery (L&D) nurses. Like physicians, CNMs have the legal authority to prescribe medication in all 50 states and are considered primary care providers under federal law.

What Are Some Certified Nurse Midwife Duties?

A few tasks that nurse midwives regularly perform may include the following:

  • Conduct STD and other tests on prospective, expecting, and new parents
  • Monitor and measure fetal development
  • Perform regular exams in the months leading up to and after the birth
  • Provide education on women's health issues, infant care techniques, and nutrition for newborns
  • Assist physicians with childbirth
  • Perform gynecological exams
  • Provide family planning services
  • Train new mothers on how to properly breastfeed
  • Screen for domestic violence, high-risk behaviors during pregnancy, and substance abuse
  • Monitor and assess the mother and fetus during the labor process - recognize abnormalities
  • Screen for congenital disabilities with the mother's consent
  • Manage complications that may arise during labor
  • Inform new mothers on the physiological changes which can last up to six weeks after birth
  • Assess newborns continually up to 28 days after they're born

Where Do Certified Nurse Midwives Work?

CNMs often work in non-hospital environments to give patients a true alternative to the traditional hospital birth experience, though this is not a hard rule. House calls and travel are also common. Typical workplace settings for nurse midwives include:

  • Birthing centers
  • Hospitals
  • Private homes
  • Medical centers
  • Academic institutions
  • Government institutions

How to Become a Certified Nurse Midwife

Prospective nurse midwives must be prepared for a long but rewarding path toward reaching their career goals. Because CNMs are advanced-practice nurses and require a Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree or a doctoral nurse midwifery degree, a commitment to education is crucial. After finishing a graduate degree program which is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME), individuals will then be eligible to acquire the CNM credential through the American Midwifery Certification Board.

Step 1: Educational Requirements

To become a Certified Nurse Midwife, the following educational requirements must be met:

  • Hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited college or university
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN prelicensure exam
  • Hold an active and unrestricted RN license
  • Hold a Master's in Nursing Science (MSN), Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), or a Ph.D. in a nurse midwifery specialization from a program that's been deemed acceptable by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education

Do Certified Nurse Midwives Need an RN Degree?

Not only are CNMs required to hold active and unencumbered RN licenses, but because they are APRNs, they must also have graduate degrees and advanced certifications.

Step 2: Required Nurse Midwife Certifications/Credentials

Prospective nurse midwives can acquire the Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) credential through the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB).

To be eligible for the Certified Nurse Midwife credential examination, the following requirements must be met prior to applying:

  • Hold an RN or NP license
  • Hold a BSN degree from an accredited university or college
  • Hold a graduate degree (MSN, DNP, etc.) from a program which has been accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME)
  • Verification by program director of completion of education program

The certification exam consists of 175 questions. Test takers have four attempts to pass and must pass within 24 months of completing their degree programs. Certifications must be renewed every five years.

Certified Nurse Midwife Jobs, Salary & Employment

Currently, only around 10 percent of births in the U.S. are assisted and/or carried out by midwives. According to the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB), in 2016 there were only 11,475 CNMs in the country. In the past few years, however, more and more women have started to show interest in having midwives lead their births. As time goes by it's quite possible that this trend will continue, and that we'll begin seeing more midwife-led births.

Job Description & Information

  • Essential Skills Needed - Excellent critical thinking abilities, strong interpersonal communication skills, social perceptiveness, teaching abilities, leadership, compassion, empathy
  • Job Outlook - The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that overall employment of nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists, and nurse practitioners is expected to grow by 31 percent from 2016 to 2026 - substantially faster than the average for the vast majority of occupations.

What Is the Average Salary of a Certified Nurse Midwife?

According to PayScale.com, the average yearly salary for CNMs is about $92,126. Salaries will usually depend on factors such as the city and state of employment, the employer, years of experience in the field, educational credentials, as well as the type of certification(s) held. In addition to their salaries, employed CNMs also can expect benefits packages which typically will include medical, dental, vision, and prescription insurance coverage. It's also customary for CNMs to receive yearly allotments of paid time-off and/or sick leave.

How Much Do Certified Nurse Midwives Make per Year?

  • $75,000 – $115,000 annually

How Much Do Certified Nurse Midwives Make per Hour?

  • $48.91 average hourly wage

Certified Nurse Midwife Resources