Midwifery brings to mind old-fashioned home-attended births, but today certified nurse midwife training opens a door to a mixed bag of birthing options for women and comprises a variety of occupational choices for nurse midwives. Some of the employment options include:
- Independent childbirth and well-woman care.
- Healthcare team practice.
- Hospital associated practice.
- Birthing centers.
- Health departments.
First, let's look at the training for how to become a nurse midwife. This role of nurse midwife is a master role in nursing, so it requires study and practice for certification beyond an RN or a BSN. It's important to find the right fit and location for this very demanding nurse-midwife program.
When training to be a midwife, there are many of the same requirements as becoming a master's-level nurse of any kind. However, beyond general nursing practices, the focus of certified nurse midwife training will be on women's care through labor and birth, as well as prenatal and postnatal care. In addition, there will be classes in pharmacology, and women's health across the lifespan.
On any given day, a nurse midwife might conduct a gynecologic exam, prescribe drugs, measure a uterus, check a newborn, deliver a baby, and perform an episiotomy.
Some training programs are online, and may allow a student to enter the nurse midwife program with a bachelor's degree in another area of study. In these programs, there will still be some demanding science prerequisites needed before applying.
Many schools require up to a year of experience in a labor and delivery setting. Some prospective students take this first step by becoming doulas. A doula is a trained companion hired by the client to coach her through a birth without pain medication. The doula attends labors and deliveries but does not perform any functions except encouragement. A nurse considering certified nurse midwife training might follow this track for a year to be sure.
Babies come at all hours of day and night, so it helps to know ahead if your energy level is up for this demanding vocation. The student will also have an extensive practicum before completing a graduate degree in this field. Practicum is based experientially on attending at least forty births along with all the other visits leading up to and following those births.
Additional gynecologic visits, and peri/post-menopausal care is also required as part of the practicum. Practicing these skills under supervision can take as long as two years.
The American Midwifery Certification Board provides guidelines for certification and requires re certification every five years, requiring proof of continuing education credit. Certification exams are administered regularly in a computer-based format at testing centers around the country. Exam cost is about $500, so it's important to be prepared both academically and financially for the certification exam.
Of all the nursing professions, pursuing certified nurse midwife training accesses the widest array of nursing care skills from birth to death to include regular exercise of basic surgical procedures. Choosing midwifery as a nursing vocation carries with it both monetary and spiritual rewards far beyond other nursing choices.