Certified Nurse Midwives / CNM Nurse

Nurse-midwifery can be traced back to 1925 in the United States. During that time, Mary Breckenridge developed the Frontier Nursing Service in Kentucky. The program utilized public health registered nurses, who had been trained in England, to staff nursing centers in the Appalachian Mountains. The facilities offered family health care services, as well as childbearing and delivery care and attention, to occupants in the area.

The first nurse - midwifery training program in the U.S. began in 1932 at the Maternity Center Association of New York City. The program registered public health nurses, and granted its graduates a certificate in nurse - midwifery.

Currently, all nurse - midwifery programs are in colleges and universities. The majority of nurse - midwives graduate at the Master's degree level. These courses must be accredited by the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) in order for graduates to acquire the National Certification Examination.

Job Description:

Certified Nurse Midwives are nurses with special instruction in obstetrics, specifically in childbirth. Nurse midwives provide health care for pregnant women and assist them during and after the delivery.

They are most frequently employed by birthing clinics or located in private practice. Some hospitals dedicated to women and children also have CNM's on staff. Back to top

Education Requirements:

Certified nurse - midwives require an advanced degree in order to be employed. You can start this advanced degree with either a bachelor education in nursing or bachelor's degree in a non-nursing area. Once you acquire a BS in either nursing or a non-nursing field, you may apply to a master's or doctorate program for a midwife degree.

Standard entrance requirements for all those who would like to learn how to become a nurse - midwife involve an active registered nursing license (RN) in the state where the college is located, some practical work experience in labor and delivery, typically up to a year, completion of the GRE (graduate school admissions test) with acceptable score, achievement of a statistics course with a satisfactory grade, letters of professional recommendation and a statement of purpose explaining why you want to become a certified nurse - midwife.

You may meet the requirements for a different route if you are currently an RN and apply for a Masters in Nursing. If you select an RN to MSN program, you won't be required to have a bachelor's degree or to have taken the GRE. If you are in a "special entry" program and have a bachelor's diploma in a non-nursing field, a nursing license will not be needed to begin this advanced degree program. Back to top


Certified Nurse Midwives supply prenatal care and delivery for expectant women. They also provide and care for their newborns. This is additionally an advanced education degree. The majority of nurses in this field are expected to work in private practice or birthing clinics. These professionals are paid between $80,000 and $122,000 a year. Back to top


As a nurse midwife, your job consists of providing proper care to the mother before, during and after childbirth; assisting in the delivery of babies; caring for babies after birth; and administering medications. In some states, certified nurse midwives are also lawfully allowed to prescribe medications. It is necessary to remember the following:
  • Details. You will handle the prenatal care and the delivery for new mothers. This means you will need close attention to detail, skill to work in stressful environments and fast thinking. You can be called for deliveries at virtually any time day or night and in some treatment centers, may be required to do a number of shift works. Along with these requirements and the extent of your work, attention to detail is of the highest importance.

  • Become certified and carry on with your education. Deciding how to become a midwife can seem challenging at first. The most direct approach is to get your Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN), then finish a graduate degree program in midwifery to become a nurse - midwife. But options are offered for RN's without a Bachelor's degree or for non-nursing students with bachelor's degrees in other fields. Certification for nurse midwives is implemented by the American Midwifery Certification Board. When you pass the certification exam and present documents that you managed to graduate from an accredited nurse - midwifery training program, you will be specified as a Certified Nurse Midwife. Certification is only effective for eight years, so commit yourself to continuing education to maintain your certification.

  • Consider getting a Master's degree. Although not universally essential, many employers prefer nurse midwives to obtain a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a concentration in nurse midwifery. This approach is because nurse midwives currently are given more serious and complex responsibilities. A MSN can be accomplished within two years and exposes students to clinical practice, rotation and women health issues. Training includes pharmacology, genetics application, reproductive dynamics and primary care of women. When you acquire an MSN, you can anticipate being assigned to supervisory levels, approved to teach at universities and engaged in research.

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Job Outlook:

Based on reports from the US Department of Labor, nursing is the biggest health care related occupation in the nation. It is also an occupation that is experiencing a nation-wide scarcity especially in the devoted areas such as midwifery. Career opportunities for certified nurse midwives are outstanding and are expected to grow 21%-35% through the end of the next ten years. High quality prenatal care will continue to be a huge concern in the field of obstetrics, and will consequently spur development in this sector. There will also be a need for nursing educators and administrators who will be accountable for teaching the upcoming generation of certified nurse midwives. Back to top