How to Become a Midwife

If you have a compassionate nature, an interest in healthcare and a desire to work with pregnant women, you might be wondering how to become a midwife. Long before today’s hospital maternity wards existed, women utilized the wisdom and skill of midwives during pregnancy, labor and delivery. Modern midwives are healthcare providers that have completed educational programs and undergone training in the care of pregnant women and their babies during pregnancy and childbirth. In the United States, there are two kinds of modern midwives: nurse midwives and direct-entry midwives.

Nurse midwives are Registered Nurses (RNs), nursing professionals that have earned an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing and acquired their state licenses to practice nursing. Often, these nurse midwives attained experience helping pregnant women and women in labor as part of their nursing duties and decided that the specialty appealed to them. Becoming a nurse midwife requires additional education above and beyond the standard nursing degree. In fact, nurse midwives in the United States must complete an advanced degree in nursing, such as the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). They must then learn the specialized knowledge needed to become a midwife by completing a nurse-midwifery education program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education. Nurse midwives earn the designation of Certified Nurse Midwife. They are not often trained in homebirths like their direct-entry counterparts, but their extensive nursing education trains them to perform certain other procedures and administer medication.

Unlike nurse midwives, direct-entry midwives do not have a nursing background or extensive healthcare training. They develop their healthcare skills in midwifery exclusively. Direct-entry midwives typically complete the academic requirements of their occupation by pursuing a formal education from a program such as those accredited by the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council. These programs can typically be completed in approximately three years and culminate in a bachelor’s degree or, for those students who have already completed their undergraduate educational careers, a master’s degree. Following their formal education, direct-entry midwives may spend years training on-the-job as an apprentice to an experienced midwife. Upon completion of their apprenticeships, direct-entry midwives must obtain the appropriate licensure, registration or certification as required by the state in which he or she intends to practice. Direct-entry midwives may earn the designations of Registered Midwife, Certified Midwife or Certified Professional Midwife. Not all states permit direct-entry midwives to practice, as some require further nursing training.

Certified nurse midwives earn a median salary of $91,999 per year, according to Direct-entry midwives typically earn wages based on the number of deliveries they perform, but because they haven’t invested the many years of schooling in advanced nursing as nurse midwives have, their income is usually lower. Both types of midwives enjoy the fulfilling nature of their work. If you want to help women through their pregnancies and deliver babies, knowing how to become a midwife could be the start of a rewarding new career in healthcare.

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