8 Steps to Becoming a Certified Nurse Midwife

December 9, 2021

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A Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) provides prenatal, gynecological, and postpartum care. They work as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), which entitles them to prescribe medications and handle more duties than an RN.

A CNA’s role extends beyond delivering babies. In addition to gynecological checkups and family planning, these professionals provide women with wellness care and health care. Although their approach to delivering care is different, CNMs are similar to GYN/OB doctors in many ways.

The path to becoming an honorary certified nurse-midwife is a long one, involving several steps and a graduate degree. So let’s see what your journey will be like if you take over this role. 

1.   Earn a BSN Degree (Bachelor of Science in Nursing)

CNM schooling begins with a nursing bachelor’s degree. Most full-time students graduate in four years, although accelerated programs can be completed in a little less time, while part-time students may need one or two more semesters to graduate. In addition, the program holds accreditation from the Accreditation Commission of Education in Nursing or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

After a bachelor, nurses get a basic license and start their career. For further studies such as masters, they can enroll in online masters in nursing from a reputable institution and simultaneously manage their work and studies. Nurses with an advanced degree or certification in the chosen area are more likely to assume leadership roles within different specialized areas of nursing.

2.   Get Licensure as the Registered Nurse

A Registered Nurse must earn an undergraduate degree and pass the NCLEX-RN examination to become licensed. It is recommended that you apply for an RN license through your state, as each state has different requirements. For example, some states require an additional exam pertaining to their nursing laws.

3.   Work as an RN While Pursuing Specialization

A certified nurse-midwife begins their work as a Registered Nurse before pursuing CNM degrees and licensure. The program allows them to improve their knowledge and skills and gives them the authority and expertise required for advanced practice positions. They can also acquire some certifications that will fully prepare them to perform the duties of a CNM.

4.   Apply For DNP or MSN Program with Nurse-Midwifery Specialty

The next step is a DNP program or master’s degree with a nurse-midwifery specialty. Even though you can earn certification by pursuing any degree, a doctorate will provide you with more job opportunities and higher salaries.

Most programs require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree with a good GPA and a nursing license. In addition, some programs may require applicants to have a background in parenting or midwifery, while others do not.

5.   Earn a DNP or MSN Degree

A master’s degree usually takes two years to complete, whereas a DNP requires three to four years. Many students take advanced nursing courses such as antepartum care and fetal evaluation during graduate school.

Additionally, they must complete fieldwork hours so they can apply their learning under supervision. When completing a graduate degree, it is important to make sure that the fieldwork experience and courses meet nurse-midwifery certification and licensure requirements.

6.   Get Certification from the American Midwifery Certification Board

AMCB, or the American Midwifery Certification Board, offers the CNM credential. Obtaining this credential requires an RN license and a graduate degree. In addition, candidates must pass the AMCB certification exam, which tests their grasp of pharmacology, physiology, and clinical decision-making. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions and is administered at testing centers on computers.

7.   Get Certified Nurse Midwife State Licensure

Certified nurse-midwives are required to have their own advanced practice licenses. In some states, nurses wishing to prescribe medications must fill out an additional application, while in other states, any licensed CNM holds automatic prescribing authority. 

8.   Find Your Desired Employment

Once you have completed the steps traced out above, you can begin looking for the job of your choice. You may search online job boards or use professional associations to look for opportunities. If you’ve established contacts in the past, you can simply leverage your previous peers or work setting to network. Attending conferences is another way to expand one’s network of professional contacts.

Final Thoughts

A Certified Nurse-Midwife could be the perfect career for you if you are passionate about helping to ensure safe delivery and promote healthy babies. 

The road to becoming a midwife involves years of clinical preparation and education. It is also a fulfilling and rewarding profession that offers excellent employment opportunities to all those with strong clinical skills and an interest in women’s health.

The demand for CNM is likely to increase in the coming years as more families and parents strive for a natural and positive birth experience. These nurses are in high demand not just for delivery but also for overall health care. 

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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