FAQs for Prospective Midwifery Students
Please click here for a complete listing of Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME) accredited education programs. (ACME was formerly known as the ACNM Division of Accreditation (DOA).)
We encourage persons interested in becoming a midwife to spend some time with a local midwife, learning about the profession, practice settings, and prospects for the future. Use our Find-a-Midwife search engine at www.midwife.org/find.cfm to locate a midwife in your local community. In addition, there are a number of books that are either written by midwives about their lives or include interviews with midwives, that will provide a picture of the life of a midwife. (For a partial reading list, please visit http://www.midwife.org/siteFiles/education/Selected_Reading_List.pdf.)
It is best to have a thorough grounding in basic sciences, such as chemistry, biology, and microbiology. In addition, courses in sociology and women's studies will be very helpful for a career in midwifery. Majoring in nursing is probably the most efficient route for a career in midwifery in the US.
All programs accredited by the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME) require a bachelor's degree for entry. Many also require that applicants be a registered nurse, although 22 programs currently have options for non-nurses. Many programs require that the bachelor’s degree be in nursing. Most programs have a limited number of spaces to admit new students each year because of the intensive faculty to student ratio needed to graduate quality nurse-midwives and midwives. It is, therefore, not unheard of for a prospective student not to be accepted the first time she/he applies to a nurse-midwifery or midwifery education program. Contact the program you are interested in directly about specific program prerequisites. (See our list of accredited programs and contact information at www.midwife.org/become_midwife.cfm.)
CNM salaries vary widely based on geographic region, responsibility and experience level. A number of variables can affect salaries for CNMs and CMs including: type of practice setting (private practice, hospital, birth center, home birth, health clinic), geographic part of the country, type of location (urban or rural), benefits packages offered with salary, hours worked per week, and type of care provided (full-scope of women's health services, pre-natal care, gynecologic care, etc.) A summary of the results can be found here.
CNMs and CMs work in a variety of settings including private practices, hospitals, birth centers, health clinics, and home birth services. The numbers and types of opportunities available to new graduates often depend on the individual's work preference and vary across the country and in different locations (urban or rural). Visit the online midwifery career center at www.MidwifeJobs.com. It is also possible for CNMs/CMs with entrepreneurial spirits to set up their own practices, establishing themselves as health care providers in the community of their choice. CNMs have legal authority to practice in every state, the District of Columbia and most of the US Territories. There are relatively few CMs in practice and the CM credential is only recognized in five states (DE, MO, NY, NJ, and RI ). Therefore, job opportunities for this professional are rather limited across the country and most CMs are practicing in New York.
All nurse-midwifery/midwifery programs accredited by ACNM ACME teach the conduct of birth outside the hospital setting. The majority of education programs are able to offer clinical learning experiences in an out-of-hospital setting with midwifery preceptors who practice in birth centers and/or homes. If you are very interested in out-of-hospital birth experiences, contact the midwifery education program director before you apply to be sure that such experiences are available at that program.
Many midwifery education programs offer optional international clinical experiences. For a list of such programs, see http://www.midwife.org/siteFiles/education/International_Health_in_Midwifery_Education_09.pdf.
The type of academic credit and degree awarded may be different for each program. All ACME-accredited midwifery education programs award a Masters Degree and/or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree; some programs offer a master's completion option for CNMs who do not have Master's degrees; and several programs offer a post-graduate certificate option for those graduate-prepared advanced practice nurses who want to expand their practice to include midwifery. Upon graduation from an ACME-accredited program, individuals are eligible to take the national certifying exam offered by the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). Upon successful completion of this exam, individuals are granted a Certificate in either Nurse-Midwifery or Midwifery.
Individuals who are registered nurses, but do not have a bachelor’s degree may become nurse-midwives either by completing a BSN or bachelor’s in another field, then attending a graduate midwifery program. Many accredited nurse-midwifery programs are in schools of nursing that offer bridge programs to facilitate progression through the bachelor’s degree in nursing to midwifery and the Master's degree. These programs are listed at http://www.midwife.org/eduprog_options.cfm?id=1.
For an individual who is neither an RN nor has a Bachelor's degree, obtaining a BSN is probably the most efficient route with the most flexibility.
There are currently two ACNM ACME-accredited education programs for non-nurse midwives. After completing this type of program, the student will be eligible to take the same certification exam that students of nurse-midwifery programs take. The credential that the midwifery student will earn after passing the exam is Certified Midwife (CM). Currently, CMs are licensed to practice in New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Delaware and Missouri. SUNY Downstate (http://www.hscbklyn.edu/CHRP/Midwif/) and Midwifery Institute of Philadelphia University (http://www.philau.edu/midwifery/) offer a midwifery degree for individuals who are not nurses leading to the credential Certified Midwife.
What are the differences between a Master's degree and the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree when I try to find employment?
The DNP is a relatively new degree and it is not clear whether or not employers will offer any salary differential for this degree. Although several schools of nursing in which nurse-midwifery education programs reside offer the DNP degree, the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) will not be requiring the DNP as an entry to practice requirement for midwifery certification. (See ACNM's position on the DNP degree.)
No. All nurse-midwifery and midwifery education programs must meet the ACNM ACME criteria in order to receive preaccreditation or accreditation status. Unique features or aspects of the individual education programs may better suit individual learning styles, but do not mean that program graduates are "better" or "more competent" CNMs or CMs.
Nurse-midwifery and midwifery education programs have been in the forefront of expanding access to education. Many education programs offer distance learning options to students on a state, regional or national basis, for both academic course work and/or clinical experience. These programs meet the ACNM ACME criteria to receive preaccreditation or accreditation status. These programs are identified as either “fully distance” or “partially distance” in the list of accredited programs. See http://www.midwife.org/Education-Programs-Directory.
Preaccreditation and accreditation status do not denote which programs are better than others. New nurse-midwifery and midwifery education programs must receive preaccreditation status before they can admit students who will be eligible to take the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) national certification exam upon graduation, and before the program can receive accreditation status. After a preaccredited program has graduated its first class, the program is eligible to receive accreditation status from the ACNM ACME. The Criteria for Preaccreditation and the Criteria for Accreditation are virtually the same requirements.
What kind of labor and delivery nursing experience is required and for how long before I can apply to a nurse-midwifery or midwifery education program?
Nurse-midwifery and midwifery education programs differ on whether or not labor and delivery nursing experience is necessary before applying to the education program. Contact the individual program(s) you are interested in directly. A list of accredited programs and contact information can be found at http://www.midwife.org/Education-Programs-Directory.
It is possible to do this, but it will be very difficult to then meet the requirements for practice in the U.S. Please refer to the publication: Information for Foreign Educated Midwives and Nurse-Midwives at http://www.midwife.org/siteFiles/education/FENM_FEM_Info_Packet_3_09_000.pdf.
Yes. Approximately 2% of CNMs are men who find this as highly rewarding a career choice as their female colleagues.
Becoming a nurse, either prior to or concurrent with the midwifery education, offers the most flexibility for practice. One can do that by applying to one of the many programs that combine nursing and midwifery. Combined programs typically last 3 years and are listed at the following site: http://www.midwife.org/eduprog_options.cfm?id=2. Another option is to attend a two-year nursing program, either an associate’s degree program or a second bachelor’s degree program, and then attend one of the accredited midwifery/nurse-midwifery education programs.