An interest in working with women and babies may lead you to become a certified nurse midwife (CNM). Certified nurse midwifery is one of four specialty areas in advanced practice nursing, with the other three being nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, and nurse anesthetist. As APRNs, CNMs can perform a range of medical services including making prescriptions and providing health education. CNMs work with women before, during, and after pregnancy, and in fact can serve women’s health care needs at all ages and stages of life. They provide gynecological care, including laboratory work and medical exams. Currently there are over 11,000 CNMs at work in the United States, and they attended over 332,000 births in 2014.
Beginning Steps Toward Becoming a CNM
The first step toward becoming a certified nurse midwife is to become an RN. There are various ways to become an RN, including diplomas and associates programs as well as bachelor’s degrees. Since becoming a CNM will eventually require an advanced graduate degree, one will either need to complete a BSN before entering graduate work or find a “bridge” program that will help them to finish up their bachelor’s level work before moving into the specialty of midwifery at the graduate level, according to the American College of Nurse-Midwives. There are also some programs that will accept a student with another bachelor’s degree, but are not yet a registered nurse. These students will need to complete the requisite undergraduate level training before they can go on to advanced level work. In order to get into a CNM program, one will also need to complete the graduate record exam (GRE).
Getting and Renewing Certification
Once a student has completed an advanced degree with a school that is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME), they will also need to go through a certification process. This involves taking and passing a national certification exam. There is just one group that offers the exam: the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). In addition to getting the degree and the proof of registered nurse license, to be eligible to take the test one will also need to have their program’s nursing director write letters to show that they have finished the work for the degree and are competent to carry out the work of a CNM. The certification from the AMCB will be recognized in every state in the U.S.
Once a person is a certified nurse midwife, every five years they will need to renew their credentials. This process is called certificate maintenance and involves taking continuing education classes in order to stay on top of changes in the field.
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Certified nurse midwifery can provide a satisfying career path for those interested in advanced practice nursing. Within the CNM role, there are many areas in which you can specialize, such as acute care, primary care, childbirth, or puberty and menopause. No matter your focus, once one becomes a certified nurse midwife, they can make a positive difference to the health of women and children.