You likely know one part of what midwives do: assisting with births. Midwife-attended births accounted for 12.1% of all spontaneous vaginal births in the United States and 8.3% of all U.S. births in total in 2014. Of these deliveries, 94.2% occurred in hospitals, 3% in freestanding birth centers and 2.7% at home.
But did you know that the care and counseling midwives do extends from pre-conception through the post-partum period? In fact, midwives also provide gynecological services, whether it’s routine care, reproductive health care or peri-/post-menopausal care. They write prescriptions and provide patient education and counseling.
Certified nurse-midwives/certified midwives are skilled health professionals who practice in a wide variety of clinical settings, diagnosing and treating patients as well as referring them to a specialist, if required. They are a vital part of the health care team and collaborate closely with physicians. While many work in the United States, others provide care in other countries. Many midwives who work in the United States provide care for women in underserved communities.
In terms of the clinical services they provide, there is virtually no difference between a certified nurse-midwife and a certified midwife.
Certified nurse-midwives/certified midwives practice in public, private, university and military hospitals. They work in HMOs, private practices and birth centers. Many midwives work in public health clinics, while others choose to provide in-home birth services.
There are many different career options for certified nurse-midwives/certified midwives—from clinical practice, education, administration and research to domestic and global health policy and legislative affairs.
Salary Range and Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for a nurse midwife is $93,610. However, individual salaries may vary widely, depending upon practice setting, geographic region, location (urban or rural), benefits packages, hours worked per week and type of care provided (full-scope of women’s health services, prenatal care, gynecologic care, etc.).
The job outlook for advanced practice nurses, like certified nurse-midwives, is good. The BLS notes that jobs are expected to grow 31% between 2014 and 2024, much faster than the average.
To earn a certified nurse-midwife/certified midwife degree, you must complete a nationally accredited program and then pass the national certification exam. A graduate degree is required for entry into midwifery practice.
Depending on the education you already have, there are a number of options for obtaining your degree. Almost all programs require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree. Many programs but not all require that you be a registered nurse (RN). If your degree is not in nursing (BA/BS), you will become a certified midwife. If your degree is in nursing (BSN), you will become a certified nurse-midwife. In most cases, RNs who don’t have a bachelor’s degree are required to complete a bachelor’s degree before attending a certified nurse-midwife program.
Most midwifery programs have a limited number of spaces to admit new students each year so do not be disappointed if you don’t get in on your first try.
Certified nurse-midwives are licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Learn More About a Career as a Nurse Midwife
- Read “Become a Midwife” for more information about midwifery.