Career Path to Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs)

nursemidwifeCertified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) are Registered Nurses (RN) with advanced training and certification to practice as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). CNMs provide basic gynecological care, contraception, prenatal care, labor and delivery care, postpartum, and newborn care. They also provide health education to women in areas such as childbearing, women issues, and infant development. The path to CNM begins with a college education to obtain a Bachelors in Nursing Degree (BSN) or an Associate in Nursing Degree (ASN) to become a nurse. After graduation, candidates take the NCLEX-RN.

Career Experience

Most midwifery programs expect applicants to have experience as a direct patient care RN in order to be admitted. Many would prefer or require Labor and Delivery (L&D) nursing experience. Labor and Delivery can be a difficult specialty to obtain depending upon the nurse’s previous experience and geographical region. In fact, High Risk L&D experience would be an extremely beneficial area to pursue. See also Nursing Midwife career outlook.
If a nurse has a difficult time obtaining L&D employment, the best course of action would be to work in a related area until they managed to obtain a job in L&D such as:

After a couple years of L&D experience, seeking specialty certification can expand a nurse’s knowledge. Although it is not commonly required for the admission process, Inpatient Obstetric Nursing (RNC-OB) Certification demonstrates a nurse’s initiative to continue their education. It can also ensure that their knowledge base is somewhat standardized in that particular area.

Nurse Midwifery Programs

Nurse Midwifery programs vary broadly in admission requirements. Some programs will allow a RN without a BSN to attend and bridge them into a CNM program by adding the missing classes they need to their individual course of study. While other programs will deny entry to a RN that only has an Associate Degree in Nursing. You may have to shop around to find one that fits your degree needs.

Nurse Midwifery programs commonly offer a Master in Nursing Degree (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Several programs offer a Post Master’s Certificate (PMC) for nurses who already possess a MSN degree in another area.

Besides certification and education requirements, other admission requirements may apply. Usually a high grade point average from undergraduate school is needed in order to be competitive in the admission process. Additionally, a high score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) may be required. However, if you are a nurse that already possesses an MSN degree you may not be required to present GRE scores. Researching various Nurse Midwifery program’s admission requirements is the best way to prepare a plan of action for the admission process.

Nurse Midwifery Student Expectations

While some programs may be based in the traditional classroom setting, many are delivered mostly online with clinical training usually set-up in your community medical facilities. However, clinical arrangements may not always be available in your own community, therefore travel may be required. Due to time constraints, many nurses may only have time to work part-time if at all during their graduate program. Midwifery students should be prepared for long hours and limited free time during the program; however the Midwifery profession can be a very rewarding experience.

Are you currently in the application process to a Nurse Midwifery program? Or, are you already enrolled in one? Do you have any tips to offer? Leave your comments below.