Certified Nurse Midwife vs. Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner: What’s the Difference?
November 30, 2021 , Updated on August 9, 2022 · 5 Min Read
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Learn the differences between a Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) and a Women's Health NP (WHNP), including required education, experience, and scope.
As an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), you can make a difference in women's lives. Both certified nurse-midwives and women's health nurse practitioners (WHNP) enjoy professional autonomy and high salaries.
This guide explains the certified nurse-midwife vs. women's health nurse practitioner distinctions. Keep reading for the information you need to choose the career that fits your women’s healthcare goals.
Certified Nurse-Midwife and Women's Health Nurse Practitioner Key Similarities and Differences
Both certified nurse-midwives and women's health nurse practitioners are APRNs who treat women. However, the scope of practice is different for these two professions.
Certified nurse-midwives specialize in helping people prepare for pregnancy, through pregnancy, and during and after childbirth. Women's health nurse practitioners care for pregnant people regardless of their pregnancy status, though they also provide care during pregnancy or after birth.
Both certified nurse-midwives and women's health nurse practitioners can diagnose conditions, order medical tests, and prescribe medications. Both degrees require at least a master of science in nursing (MSN) and passing the applicable board certification examination.
|Points to Consider||Certified Nurse-Midwife||Women's Health Nurse Practitioner|
|Degree Required||MSN or DNP||MSN or DNP|
|Certification Options||American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB)||National Certification Corporation (NCC)|
|Duties and Responsibilities||Provide care before pregnancy and during pregnancy, childbirth, and recovery from childbirth. Treat conditions related to fertility, pregnancy, and childbirth.||Provide healthcare for women of all ages. Diagnose and prescribe treatment for health conditions.|
|Annual Salary||$105,000, according to the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)||$120,680 (median), according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)|
Duties and Responsibilities
Comparing certified nurse-midwife vs. women's health nurse practitioner responsibilities, nurse midwives and women's health nurse practitioners both care for adult women. However, women’s health nurse practitioners do not provide antepartum or antenatal care, and do not provide care during delivery, which nurse-midwives do provide.
Education and Certification
Both certified nurse-midwives and women's health NPs are APRNs. They need an RN license, to earn an MSN or DNP, and pass the applicable board certification examination.
Most have a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), but many schools offer RN-to-MSN bridge programs for nurses with an ADN.
Salary and Career Outlook
Looking at certified nurse-midwife vs. women's health nurse practitioner salaries, the median salary for WHNPs is slightly higher. However, both offer a salary considerably above the $41,950 national median for all workers, according to the BLS.
Average Annual Certified Nurse-Midwife Salary
Median Annual Women's Health Nurse Practitioner Salary
Certified Nurse-Midwife vs. Women's Health Nurse Practitioner: Which Career is Right For Me?
Making the certified nurse-midwife vs. women's health nurse practitioner decision depends on your personal goals. Both have high salaries, professional autonomy, and a potentially satisfying career.
The required education takes the same amount of time and costs roughly the same amount. While the salaries are similar, the demand for WHNPs is higher. Of the two, only certified nurse-midwives can deliver babies.
If you know you want to treat women but are not sure about if you want to specialize in fertility, pregnancy, and childbirth, becoming a nurse-midwife gives you more options.
Either way, if you change your mind after you graduate and practice, you can enroll in a post-graduate certificate program to earn the other specialization.
Emotionally, certified nurse-midwives experience more highs and lows, since they treat patients experiencing trouble becoming pregnant, or who lose a pregnancy or child. Sometimes their patients die during childbirth.
While women's health NPs also treat women during difficulties and lose patients, their work is not inherently as emotionally charged. Either career offers emotional and financial rewards.
Page last reviewed: May 6, 2022
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