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.