Nurse Midwife Programs Combine The Best of Both Worlds

Nurse midwife programs combine the nurturing practice of nursing and midwifery. These programs prepare a student to become an advanced practice nurse as a certified nurse midwife (CNM). The certified nurse midwife is a specialized nurse who has had advanced training regarding antepartum, intrapartum, and postpartum care of women and their babies. It has evolved from the earlier separate roles of the nurse and the midwife caring for the same patient population.

Certified nurse midwife programs are fewer in number than other specializations in nursing. Perhaps one reason is the number of regular midwives who are not RN’s who render the same kind of service. However, there is considerable demand for this specialty as it represents advanced training in this field and because it is professionally rewarding.

Applicants have the option to choose to enroll in over 50 different schools nationwide which offers this specialty. They offer this program as a specific track of their master’s of science in nursing (MSN) programs. As such, they require a minimum of a bachelor’s of science in nursing degree (BSN) to enter. In addition, a minimum GPA of 3.0, unencumbered license as a registered nurse, and one to two
years working experience are often needed.

Nurses without BSN’s or those with a bachelor’s degree from another field may enter a nurse midwife track of an MSN program through bridge or accelerated programs to earn their BSN first. As in other MSN programs, students can expect to study anatomy, pathophysiology, biochemistry, and pharmacology, but with a special focus on gynecology, obstetrics, neonatology, and genetics. Health education in family planning, breastfeeding, and immunization is also studied.

The clinical portion of certified nurse midwife programs is done in nearby hospitals, birthing centers, and clinics under the supervision of a certified nurse midwife. The lectures are done in campuses but more distance learning options are being made available by schools. These options can take the form of online classes, video conferencing or take-home modules or books.

Students of this program are trained to become expert nurses in labor and delivery, often collaborating with the obstetrician and other members of the healthcare team. Students develop critical thinking skills to spot complications and deficiencies in care. They are also trained to render care before and after delivery to mothers and neonates. Certified nurse midwives also assist in women’s health screenings like breast examinations and pap smears.

After graduation from an accredited program, a student needs to be certified by the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) as a certified nurse midwife (CNM). State boards of nursing also have additional requirements before CNM’s are allowed to practice.

There are many practice settings available for CNM’s. About 23 percent of them work in hospitals according to the ACNM. The rest are employed in birthing centers, health departments and clinics, while others teach in colleges and universities. A few CNM’s have put up their own independent practice.

The nursing shortage and the constant demand for expert caregivers for mothers and their babies ensures that job opportunities will be available for CNM’s in the future. The ACNM predicts that ten percent of babies in the United States will be delivered by CNM’s in the near future, rising from just three percent ten years ago. This need would be adequately addressed by nurse midwife programs.

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