Nurse Midwife

Introduction: What is a Midwife

A midwife is a nurse who is trained to give counseling and care to women during different phases of childbirth, from preconception to the postpartum phase. Also, she is trained to provide health care and counseling from adolescence to menopause, and even beyond that. As part of her training the midwife has gained expertise on a variety of issues, from sexually transmitted infections to diseases such as cervical and uterine cancers, which can strike a woman at any age. The midwife stands ready to share such expertise with the women she serves at any point in time. Also, these professionals partner with their pregnant patients in order to help them decide what the best birthing option is for them, whether natural or with the aid of commonly used technologies, such as fetal monitoring and IVs, given the overall health of the individual woman, and her level of comfort based on her prior experience with childbirth, if any.

What Is the Origin of the Term “Midwife”

The term “midwife” comes from an old English term, “mid wif,” which literally meant, “with woman,” according to midwife Peter Johnson. In the mid-2000s, the American College of Nurse Midwives has extended the definition of this term to mean “with woman for a lifetime,” to more accurately reflect what midwives do today, because, indeed, they do more than just aid with childbirth.

What About Gender

A midwife, traditionally thought to be a female, can also be a man. While certainly most women feel more comfortable with a female practitioner than with one who is male — men are either practicing midwifery, or studying to do so, in larger numbers, as Johnson points out.

How Prevalent is Midwifery in the United States

According to the Explore Health Careers Website, midwife-attended births have risen steadily since the mid-1950s. According to Johnson, by the middle of the 1980s, the United States Air Force was the largest single provider of midwife care, and, therefore, the largest employer thereof. This was, perhaps, because of the increasing presence of women in the Air Force.

As of 2012, the number of practicing, certified midwives has passed 6,000. Midwives today work in a variety of professional settings, whether they are hospitals, birthing centers, and clinics. Some even have their own private practice, with other midwives working under them.

How Do I Become a Nurse-Midwife

According to the Requirements to Become website, there are several things you must do to become a certified, practicing nurse midwife. The first of these is to attend a four-year university with a nursing program. Obtain a Bachelors of Science degree. Here, the instructors will teach you in the biological sciences, in addition to providing practical, clinical experience.

Once you have received a Bachelor’s of Science degree, you must go on to acquire your Master’s Degree from a nurse midwifery program that is accredited by the American College of Nurse Midwives, according to the Mayo Clinic website. This process — as is the case with most graduate programs — normally takes two years.

The word “accredited” is very important. As a nursing student, you must be astute about the program you are considering. Many such programs that offer such training exist, particularly online. Not all of them are accredited by this agency, and you must check for yourself to see if these colleges are as accredited. If you enroll in these programs, do all the coursework, and pass the proper tests, you’ll find yourself unable to practice your trade due to having acquired your education from an institution that is not on par with the requirements of the ACNM. You will have wasted your money, and will have to start over.

Also, register with the ACNM website, and research what their course requirements are for licensure. All institutions that offer this training are not equal. You want a program that offers all the courses required by the licensing agency.

You must also fulfill all the requirements that typically a person studying to be a registered nurse, or RN must also meet. You must take the NCLEX-RN, and receive the proper license to practice nursing.

After all of this, you may have to get certified. As the Requirements to Become website suggests, you should check the requirements for nurse midwifery in your state, as some states require you to be certified before you can practice nurse midwifery within their jurisdiction.

How Much Will I Make

Generally, a nurse midwife’s median salary is in the $70,000 range, according to the Explorehealthcareers website. However, how much you will actually make depends on a number of factors, such as geographical setting; where you work, and whether you work in a local or rural area; and your skills — whether you just treat women who are about to give birth, or have a wide range of experience and expertise in diagnosing a number of conditions. As a rule, the more you know, the more valuable you are to your employer. As your value to your place of work increases, the more your employing institution is likely to pay you.

Conclusion: Is Midwifery the Career Choice For Me

Do you have a love and a caring for women that drives you to see them in the best of health? Do you want to help women see to it that their reproductive years — and beyond — are their best, healthwise? If you have these traits, coupled with a desire to learn, and the ability to master difficult concepts quickly, and are able to relate well to people — this profession might be the one for you.