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How to Become a Certified Nurse Midwife in 2021

29 Jan

How to Become a Certified Nurse Midwife in 2021

If you are thinking about starting your career as a nurse midwife, continue reading further to gauge whether it is right for you.

Primarily, a certified nurse midwives (CNMs) are extremely trained healthcare professionals who are known to offer vital medical care and assist patients through major life transitions. A midwives is not only responsible to care for expectant mothers through pregnancy and postpartum phase, but they also treat women throughout their life as primary healthcare providers.

All certified midwives are an integral part of healthcare teams and in certain cases, they operate independently. Similar to other roles in healthcare, the growth trajectory of midwives is extremely promising. As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Certified Nurse Midwives jobs are expected to grow by 12% through 2029, which is subsequently much faster than the industry average.

If you are interested in pursuing a career as a certified nurse midwives, below are some of the basic requirements you need to focus upon in order to advance professionally:

What Is a Certified Nurse Midwife?

A certified nurse midwives are basically advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). These nurses practice in birthing centers, hospitals and other private practices caring for pregnant women and assisting through postpartum needs. In parallel to being trained as registered nurses, CNMs have also received a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with core expertise in midwifery.

Here are the four steps to becoming a certified nurse midwife:

  • Complete your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program.
  • Take the national midwifery certification exam.
  • Upon clearing the exam, apply for advanced practice state licensure as a CNM
  • Maintain your license as a midwife through continuing education.

These nurses are considered to be primary care providers under federal law. This essentially means they can do a variety of things as physicians including:

  • Writing prescriptions
  • Ordering and reviewing lab tests
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Prescribing treatment plan

What Nurse Midwives Do?

When you become a nurse midwife, you will be responsible to take a variety of responsibilities. This often depends on the premise you work. For instance, if you work at a private clinic, you are likely to take more responsibilities than a large hospital with designated nurses.

In general, a CNM will:

  • Conduct STD and other relevant tests on prospective, expecting, and new parents
  • Offer guidance, awareness, education and training on breastfeeding
  • Guide new parents regarding infant care, including topics such as colic and SIDS
  • Preparing mothers for labor and delivery
  • Caring for mothers and infants during and post childbirth
  • Administering low-intervention pain relief during labor
  • Look out for complications that require medical assistance by doctors
  • Offering postpartum care for mothers and infants

How to Become a Certified Nurse Midwife

In order to become a CNM, you will need to adhere to certain basic requirements before enrolling yourself in the Master's degree program. This includes:

  • A valid and unrestricted Registered Nurse License.
  • Work experience of a year or more in Labor Room as a Registered Nurse.
  • Good Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score.
  • School Accreditation for Nurse Midwife Programs

It is important for nurses who wish to acquire their certification as midwife to opt for programs that are accredited. This is very important as graduates of non-accredited nurse midwife programs cannot take the CNM certification exam. As per the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME), "programs are performing at the highest level of quality and providing learning experiences that will lead to optimal outcomes for students."


Depending on the level of education you have acquired, there are a few paths that you can take to earn an MSN specialized as a midwife.

  • If you have an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), you can directly enroll yourself in a bridge program which will enable you to fast track your MSN degree instead of opting for a BSN first.
  • If you have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), you can directly enroll yourself in the Master's program.

Depending upon your level of education, earning your Master's degree in midwifery can take up to two to four years.

Online Programs

A midwife is responsible to check on the mother and newborn in hospital. Today, campus based, online or hybrid MSN programs are available across the United States. Generally, these programs are tailored while considering full time working nurses in mind. You can thus enroll yourself on part time or full-time basis.

These programs are rather flexible with many courses scheduled on weekends or night enabling full time nurses to balance work, education and family. Regardless of whatever program you opt for, you will be expected to spend substantial amount of time on clinical trainings within a medial setting.

Financial Aid

You can acquire financial aid from a variety of sources. Most commonly, you can approach the local government for help. You will be required to fill the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to be considered. Other financial aid includes grants, private loans and scholarships.


Once you have finished your degree, the next step is to acquire certification in your specialty by taking the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) exam. Once you pass this exam, you will be a certified nurse midwife

The test comprises of 175 questions, where you will be given four tries to pass the examination. The exam needs to be taken within 24 months of completion of your master's program. Those candidates who fail to pass in four attempts within 24 months must complete another accredited nurse midwife degree program before taking the exam again.

Continuing Education

You will be required to take classes throughout your career to remain abreast with changes, trends and advances in midwifery. There are a variety of continuing education programs approved by state boards of nursing.