What is a Midwife?
The ‘midwife’ has been around almost as long as women have been having babies. The practice of midwifery has evolved over the years from the informal support of female friends and family members to the modern, certified nurse-midwives that obtain licensure after completing their nursing education. One thing has remained the same for centuries, however, and that is the valuable role that midwives play.
The Role of Certified Nurse-Midwives
Certified nurse-midwives are licensed LPNs or RNs that have attained additional certification in midwifery and are equipped with the knowledge and skills to help pregnant women before, during, and after pregnancy.
Nurse-midwives are able to offer primary pregnancy care to women who have a low-risk pregnancy. They also work with obstetricians and gynecologists to care for women who have riskier pregnancies or who are facing the threat of pregnancy complications. Physicians who practice gynecology value the input of those who have chosen midwifery as a nursing career, so nurse-midwives generally have an easier time getting a job with an OB-GYN or in the labor-and-delivery ward of a local hospital than those who have graduated from nursing programs without studying midwifery.
In addition to caring for pregnant women and helping to deliver babies, nurse-midwives who have graduated from a nurse-midwife program also attain the skills needed to help women with gynecological problems, sexual health, and other related matters. In fact, it is increasingly common for nurse-midwives to be the primary individuals who provide gynecological care, especially when they are also certified nurse practitioners.
Training Requirements for Certified Nurse-Midwives
According to Johnson & Johnson, to become a certified nurse-midwife, an individual must first become a nurse by earning a nursing diploma, an ADN, or a BSN. Licensure as an RN or LPN results from passing the NCLEX examination, which proves that the test-taker has the necessary skills to enter the nursing profession. Then, he or she must work for at least 2 years in a midwife-related field.
At this point, an individual can enter either a Nurse-Midwife Education program or a direct entry program. Finally, he or she can become certified by the American College of Nurse-Midwives Certification Council (ACNM) or a similar organization. This midwifery certification exam proves that the student is ready and able to serve well in a nursing career that is focused on the care of pregnant women.
Salary and Job Outlook for Certified Nurse-Midwives
The overall shortage of nurses in the United States means that job prospects for certified nurse-midwives remain excellent. A drive to lower healthcare costs in the country will also guarantee that nurse-midwives can find employment in the foreseeable future. It is generally less expensive for hospitals and insurance companies to care for patients using nurses than it is to use medical doctors, and this is particularly true in the area of obstetrics and gynecology. Nursing occupations in this field, therefore, are abundant, and they will continue to be so as the cost of healthcare increases.
The average yearly salary for a certified nurse-midwife is upwards of $75,000. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the job outlook for registered nurses is positive, with 26% expected job growth between 2010 and 2020.
When one considers the investment in a nursing education in relation to the potential lifetime earnings of a nurse-midwife and the job prospects for the position, it is even easier to see why many people choose to become nurses. Nursing students with a particularly strong interest in helping women and children should therefore seriously consider a career as a certified nurse-midwife.