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.
A few tasks that nurse midwives regularly perform may include the following:
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:
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.
To become a Certified Nurse Midwife, the following educational requirements must be met:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.