How to Become a Registered Nurse Midwife

Oct 20, 2021

Learn how to become a registered nurse midwife. Research the education requirements, training information, and experience required for starting a career as a registered nurse midwife.

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Registered Nurse Midwife Career Info

Degree Level Master's or doctorate
Degree Field Nurse midwifery
Experience At least 1 year of midwifery experience for entry-level roles; 2 to 5 years for more advanced positions
Licensure and Certification All states require a registered nursing license; certification is required for licensure
Key Skills Critical thinking, interpersonal, communication, and leadership skills; detail-oriented, resourceful, and compassionate
Salary $109,640 (2020 median for all certified nurse midwives)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,,, Online Job Postings (2015)

A registered nurse midwife is an advanced practice nurse who specializes in women's health issues from adolescence to menopause. While they are best known for the assistance they provide to women during childbirth, nurse midwives are also experienced in prenatal care, postpartum care, and newborn health care. Their scope of practice also includes gynecological and breast exams, sexually transmitted diseases, and family planning. Many work hours spent standing may be required, and midwives involved with childbirth will need to be available on call.

In addition to the appropriate training, nurse midwives should have critical thinking skills, interpersonal skills, communication skills, an attention to detail, resourcefulness, and compassion. Nurse midwives made a median annual salary of $109,640 in 2020, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Get a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing

Getting licensed as a nurse midwife first requires the candidate first become a registered nurse. This usually involves obtaining a bachelor's degree in nursing from an accredited nursing college. Nursing degree programs typically require certain prerequisites in the first two years of coursework, including chemistry and biology, prior to beginning the nursing curriculum. The final two years of the program incorporate nursing courses in family and community health, nursing practice science, and ethics. The curriculum also incorporates clinical rotations in major health disciplines under the supervision of a preceptor.

Midwife degree programs generally require applicants to have a history of academic excellence in their undergraduate programs. Applicants generally need to have maintained a minimum 3.0 GPA, especially in science courses and core courses of the nursing degree.

Get RN Licensure and Experience

Graduates of state-approved or accredited professional nursing programs can generally apply to take the state examination for licensure as an RN. State requirements vary, and some states offer alternative demonstrations of competence for graduates of schools that aren't state-approved. Generally, a registered nurse who holds a license in one state can apply for licensure in another state by endorsement rather than taking each state's examination.

Before RNs can enroll in a midwifery degree program, they must typically acquire relevant experience in midwifery or women's health. Admission boards might prefer applicants with at least one year of registered nursing experience. Working in a labor and delivery ward in a hospital is one way to obtain the kind of experience midwifery programs prefer. A women's clinic can also provide appropriate experience in women's health care.

Complete a Midwife Education Program

Licensure as a nurse midwife typically requires completion of a graduate program in midwifery that's accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education. Graduate degree programs in midwifery let students advance their midwife skills both academically and clinically. Most programs are two years in length and confer a master's degree. Courses include all aspects of pregnancy and birth, physical and pelvic assessments, neonatology, postpartum care, and clinical practice.

Apply for Certification and Earn Licensure

Students who hold their registered nurse licenses and have graduated from a nurse-midwifery degree program are eligible for the Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) credential awarded through the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). Candidates must pass the certification exam within 24 months of completing a midwife degree program.

To maintain CNM certification, a practitioner is required to complete 20 hours of continuing education per five-year re-certification cycle. Approved continuing education providers and other methods of completing this requirement can be found through the AMCB website. Candidates for state licensure as a midwife must have a valid RN license and meet education requirements, which usually includes completion of an accredited midwifery program. Most states also require certification to obtain licensure.

Consider Specialty Certification

A registered nurse midwife may consider becoming certified as a doula. In addition to physically assisting mothers, a doula certification also validates that a midwife is capable of providing mothers with emotional support during and after child birth. The DONA International offers a standard and an advanced Certified Doula designation for child birth: CD(DONA) and AdvCD(DONA). An individual wishing to provide post-delivery care can become a Postpartum Certified Doula at the basic or advanced level, resulting in the PCD(DONA) and AdvPCD(DONA) designations.

To sum up, aspiring nurse midwives must first complete the training and licensure requirements to become registered nurses before completing a midwife training program and gaining extra certification.

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