Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) Programs

Ensuring that women all over the country have painless deliveries and healthy children, midwifery has been a cornerstone for successful birth and perinatal care for the last ten decades. With new programs cropping up nationwide every year, becoming a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) has never been more rewarding and in demand. Preparing you for the full scope of primary care, family planning and newborn care, these programs help you master the art of tending to mothers and their infants. If you are keen on providing a wide array of healthcare services through the lifespan of women, then midwifery is the path for you.

Who is this program for?

Are you an RN (registered nurse) passionate about pregnancy, birth and perinatal care? Do you want to witness and protect the miracle of life, looking after both the mother and her newborn baby? Are you interested in obstetrics, gynecology or preconception counseling? Do you want to minimize unnecessary intervention and make the delivery experience as safe and comfortable as possible? If you answer yes to these questions, you are the ideal candidate for a Certified Nurse Midwife program.

Albeit an invaluable and highly satisfying job, you will have a great deal of responsibility as a CNM. Your duties will not be restricted to pregnancy and childbearing women. You will also have extensive obligations when it comes to prescribing birth control, managing the postpartum period and providing gynecological care, as well as offering medical consultations to women experiencing menopause. The CNM program is multidimensional and usually intersects with knowledge of women’s health. If these two fields of study are of interest and you would like to become an expert at providing quality care for children and mothers alike, a CNM program is the perfect choice for your nursing career.

What can a Certified Nurse Midwife program do for you?

A CNM program makes you eligible for and prepares you for the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) examination, which allows you to work as a Midwife Nurse in hospitals, birth centers, and patient homes. Teaching you everything you need to know about newborn wellness and women’s health during their reproductive years, the program ensures that you can become a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) without additional education or training needed.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a 25% increase in openings for Certified Nurse Midwives is estimated between 2014 and 2024. Completing this program will ensure that you earn a stable, high-paying job and help women give birth naturally (the goal is fewer C-sections). You can make a real impact on a family’s life and provide the best possible options for delivery and care for their newborn. You will have the authority to perform medical procedures and administer drugs accordingly.

Is midwifery still a lucrative career?

The multifaceted tradition of midwifery has undergone several drastic changes and different periods throughout the last century. Initially developed in the 1930s, this nursing practice stemmed from the growing concern for the high infant and maternal mortality rates of the early twentieth century. Social reformers, public health nurses and obstetricians alike wanted to create lasting change that would totally reformed the delivery and perinatal system. Initially, there were only two facilities for this practice in the country – The Maternity Center Association and The Frontier Nursing Service. Responding to the need to fill in the shortcomings of physicians, midwifery became a highly lucrative career.

A shift happened after the first few years of the blossoming of the profession. Despite increased evidence that midwives have better health outcomes both for infants and mothers than physicians, segregation laws and anti-immigration legislation significantly reduced the number of both new and experienced midwives in the country. By the end of World War II, less than 5% of mothers were attended by childbirth assistants during delivery. The lowest point of 1% was reached in 1975 when this type of nursing practice was about to become extinct, and its tradition was soon to be lost nationwide with most traditional midwives forced to retire.

Luckily, there was a new surge in the 1990s when the Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) credential was created. The emergence of this promising specialization led to a dramatic upturn in both the number of women interested in becoming midwives and job positions available under the title.

Eventually, The National Association of Certified Professional Midwives (NACPM) also recognized the immense impact racism has had on the nation’s maternity system as a whole, adopting an essential statement of intent addressing these issues.

Over time, non-discrimination policies were put in place over the country, and midwifery returned to the fruitful and growing profession it once was. Nowadays, there is a more substantial demand for CNMs than ever, as well as an ever-increasing array of new job opportunities available for those who pursue this path. With this in mind, choosing a career in midwifery can be both emotionally and financially rewarding and no longer a thing of the past.

What does the program require?

Nurse midwifery programs generally require an RN (registered nurse) license, a Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited institution (authorization from either the CCNE or ACEN), a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above for your last earned certification and the completion of several prerequisites.

Some schools may ask you for proof of practical or work experience (a minimum of one year) for specializations like postpartum care, gynecology or pediatrics. In addition, you will need to submit a personal statement that showcases and clarifies your career goals, a professional curriculum vitae (CV) and three letters of recommendation (two from academic sources and one from your workplace). Depending on the specialty you are pursuing, your university might require you to have an APRN (Advanced Practice Registered Nurse) licensure or an Advanced Practice Certification.

There are several prerequisites to carry out before you can enroll in a nursing midwife program. These include general education courses such as English, chemistry, biology, math, social science, psychology, anatomy, and physiology. However, the route to becoming a CNM varies according to the school you choose. Depending on your academic background, you might not need any prerequisites for the program, or you might already have the necessary courses completed.

What will you learn?

The curriculum for Nurse-Midwifery is bound to intersect with other women’s health topics that you would like to study while earning your qualification as a WHNP (Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner). With this in mind, a CNM program will teach you how to provide primary healthcare to a childbearing family and how to meet the needs of women from various ethnic, socio-economic and religious backgrounds. The program will show you how to develop cultural sensitivity and critical thinking skills which will help you offer the safest and most effective medical care possible.

A central component to the program is the pregnancy period – you will learn about collecting relevant data to conduct health assessments, developing a comprehensive care plan, and directly implementing these actions or procedures in a secure, stable environment while evaluating the overall effectiveness of the methods previously employed. You will learn the basic techniques and medical procedures used during childbirth, how to correctly interpret relevant data, recognize and apply theoretical nursing concepts to your advanced midwifery practice and create long-lasting strategies that positively impact the health of the family. You will focus on professional and historical issues in midwifery, and also on the importance of contraceptives, proper care of the newborn and a smooth, problem-free transition through the postpartum period.

Here are the main courses you will attend during a CNM program:

  • Advanced Health Assessment
  • Women’s Health
  • Advanced Physiology and Pathophysiology
  • Introduction to Antepartum Management
  • Theoretical Basis for Clinical Reasoning
  • Conceptual Frameworks for Nurse-Midwifery
  • Antepartum Complications
  • Intrapartum, Postpartum and Newborn Care for Nurse-Midwifery
  • Diagnosis and Management in Primary Care for Women
  • Family Theory
  • Project Planning
  • Pediatric Physiologic Management
  • Biostatistics for Evidence-Based Practice
  • Pharmacology for Advanced Nursing Practice
  • Health Policy and Advocacy
  • Professional Issues in Nurse-Midwifery
  • Incorporating Genetics and Genomics in Advanced Practice Nursing
  • Clinical Prevention and Population Health
  • Practicum: Newborn Clinical
  • Nursing Leadership
  • Midwifery Clinical Competency Skills

How long does the program take?

A Certified Nurse Midwife program typically takes 2 years to complete and requires between 50 and 60 credit hours. You will most likely be asked to participate in clinical rotations anywhere between one to four times per week and be obligatged to attend on-campus classes at least two days every week. During these two years, you will master topics like health promotion, disease prevention, mental health and primary care for women and newborn. Bear in mind that if you study part-time, the length of the program will most likely extend to three years.

Does the program require any clinical hours?

Yes, a Certified Nurse Midwife program entails 1,000 clinical hours or more. These are designed to build firsthand experience and foster leadership within midwives, as well as prepare you for working with real patients and other qualified staff members to provide optimal medical care for women and children. Clinical rotations compel you to apply the theoretical knowledge accumulated during your classes and perform within designated hospitals, simulation labs or maternity centers. This ensures that you have already learned the ropes of practicing midwifery by the time you join the workforce.

Are there any online options?

There is a wide range of online alternatives for earning your qualification as a CNM. You might consider distance learning if you have a busy schedule and want to work during your studies, learn better in a remote environment or through one-on-one tutoring, or invest less money for your certification than is required through the conventional process. An excellent online program will offer a blend of all of the above features and grant you the possibility of personalizing both your learning methods and study time.

The curriculum should still cover the same subject areas but should require little to no campus classes. You will still need to attend a hospital or birth center to complete your clinical practice, but this should be all. Most online tracks require ten or fewer campus visits throughout the entire length of the studies. Here are the main schools that provide online alternatives for receiving qualification as a Certified Nurse Midwife:

  • Georgetown University
  • Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Nursing
  • James Madison University
  • Stony Brook University
  • Frontier Nursing University
  • University of Cincinnati
  • Philadelphia University
  • Bethel University
  • Midwives College of Utah
  • Old Dominion University
  • East Carolina University

How much does the program cost?

Tuition for Nurse-Midwifery programs varies greatly depending on the type of certification and your selected school. Prices typically range between $20,000 and $60,000. For instance, a Master of Science in Nursing with a midwifery specialty costs approximately $36,000, whereas a post-graduate certificate is worth up to $20,000 and an ADN to MSN track in midwifery can require around $50,000 overall. A standard CNM degree program costs anywhere between $30,000 and $50,000.

In addition to tuition, there are several mandatory fees to take into account. These include- the application fee (up to $100, but varies according to school), a preceptor fee (around $500), a technology fee (generally $250 per term), a graduation fee (not more than $200), abound orientation fee (up to $600) and a clinical bound fee (approximately $500). There are also some indirect costs that you should estimate and include in your budget before applying for a CNM program, including travel, textbooks, Internet access, software, and computer, as well as uniforms where required.

What about accreditation?

Unlike other nursing tracks, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) and Nurse-Midwifery programs can receive accreditation from a variety of authorized institutions. Make sure your chosen training and school have approval from the State Board of Nursing and accreditation from one or more of the following agencies: The Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME), The American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB), The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or The National Certification Council (NNC). You will also need to pass the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) examination in order to earn your license and practice as a Nurse Midwife.

Where can you work as a Nurse Midwife?

A CNM program will make you eligible to work in a variety of healthcare settings, both inpatient and outpatient, including birth centers, hospitals, private clinics, family planning centers, physician’s offices, patient homes and health clinics. Those who complete this program go on to work as a Certified Nurse Midwife. If this is not the path you have chosen for yourself, here are some other possible career routes you might be interested in:

  • Director of Inpatient Services
  • Midwife
  • Chief Nursing Officer
  • Nurse Home Visitor
  • Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
  • Perioperative Director
  • Senior CNA
  • Health Support Aide
  • Health Support Technician
  • Department of Health and Human Services Nurse Midwife
  • Family Clinician

How much can you earn as a Nurse Midwife?

A Nurse Midwife earns significantly more than your average BSN holder, LPN or registered nurse. The median salary for a CNM is $107,460, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). By comparison, an RN makes approximately $68,450 every year, while a Nurse Practitioner makes a little over $100,000 on average and a Licensed Practical or Vocational Nurse earns just under $45,000. It is safe to say that the earning potential of a midwifery career is high and will only continue to increase in the future due to the tremendous demand for CNMs all over the country.