1. Careers
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Nurse-Midwife - How to Become a Nurse Midwife


Newborn baby
IAN HOOTON / Science Photo Library / Getty Images

What Is A Nurse-Midwife? Brief Overview of Midwifery:

A nurse-midwife is a registered nurse who has additional training in obstetrics and gynecology. Most people think of midwives as nurses who deliver babies. While that is a primary function of their role, "nurse-midwives do more than deliver babies," according to the American College of Nurse-Midwives. According to the ACNM, 90% of a nurse-midwife's practice is for "primary or preventive care", including "annual exams and reproductive health visits" for women, in addition to their work delivering babies.

Nurse-midwifery practice in the United States dates back to the 1920s, and, according to the ACNM, "since then, nurse-midwives have been recognized for their contributions to reducing infant and maternal mortality, premature births, and low birth weight rates."

Where Do Midwives Work? Employers of Nurse-Midwives:

Over 60% of nurse-midwives list physician practices or hospitals/medical centers as their employer, according to the ACNM, and 97% of all births attended by a nurse-midwife occured in a hospital.

Certified nurse-midwives (CNM) can practice in all 50 states, but certified midwives (CM) may only be licensed to work in Rhode Island, New Jersey, and New York. Certified Midwives (CM) have the same training as Certified Nurse-Midwives, but CMs are not registered nurses as CNMs are.

Educational Requirements for Nurse-Midwives:

According to the ACNM, 80% of Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNM) have a Master's Degree, and 5% have doctorate level education.

There are approximately 38 accredited nurse-midwife education programs in the United States.

Why Work as a Nurse-Midwife? What's to Like About Midwifery Careers:

Bringing new life into the world can be a very rewarding career. Additionally, according to the ACNM, the following are a few key reasons why midwifery is a great career:
  • Empower women to take more active roles in making decisions about their health care and lifestyle.
  • Help to reduce the maternal and infant death rate in this country and in the world.
  • Foster collegial relationships with physicians, nursing specialists, and other health care professionals.

Career Paths for Nurse-Midwives:

In addition to their medical practices and providing healthcare in the field of obstetrics and gynecology, nurse-midwives may also be involved in roles such as:
  • clinical research
  • educating other medical professionals or future midwives
  • government roles in health care policy
  • practice director or owner

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.