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Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)

A Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) is an advanced practice nurse who cares for women during pregnancy, childbirth, during their postpartum period, and after. Their focus is a more holistic style of nursing by aiding women in both their physical and psychosocial needs, assisting with alternative pain management during labor, tending to the newborn right after birth, and giving women breastfeeding guidance. A CNM manages a woman’s healthcare needs by providing preventive health and contraception education.

Education Requirements

A CNM must complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and successfully pass the state’s NCLEX-RN exam. Nurses with ADN degrees will need to obtain their BSN first or find a program that allows them to combine a BSN to CNM option. All certified nurse-midwife programs have coursework in antepartum care, advanced primary care, intrapartum and postpartum care, and newborn care.

How to advance/career pathway

A CNM may go on and obtain a doctoral degree in nursing (likely honing in on an area within CNM nursing). These doctoral degrees are not to be confused for medical doctor degrees that physicians hold. 

RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Perform gynecologic exams
  • Pregnancy care during antepartum, labor, delivery, and the postpartum period.
  • May assist a physician in a hospital delivery
  • Deliver and care for newborns at birth
  • Provide primary care, counseling, and education during pregnancy and afterward 
  • Assist with lactation needs of the mother

MOST COMMON CASES

  • Rural and inner-city women needing pregnancy care
  • Teenagers and women of child-bearing age 
  • Newborn care

How to become a

Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)

  1. Complete an ADN or BSN program in nursing
  2. Pass the NCLEX-RN exam and apply for your RN license
  3. Have one to two years of experience working as an RN
  4. Apply and complete a Nurse-Midwifery Program
  5. Take the Certified Nurse-Midwifery Exam (CNM Exam)
  6. Apply for State Licensure to practice as a CNM through the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB)

The American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM) currently lists 38 programs accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME). 

Note a certified nurse-midwife is different than a certified midwife. A CNM is a registered nurse who graduates from a nurse-midwifery program, while a certified midwife is not a registered nurse.

Specialty Groups and Communities

Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME)

  • Mission: “The mission of the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME) is to advance excellence in midwifery education.” ACME is a national accrediting agency for nurse-midwifery and midwifery education programs. You can find ACME-accredited programs here.
  • Cost: N/A
  • Perks: N/A 

American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM): a professional association that represents certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) and certified midwives (CMs)

  • Mission: “The mission of the American College of Nurse-Midwives is to support midwives and to ultimately advance the practice of midwifery, achieving optimal health for all women throughout their lifespan.”
  • Cost: $145-365, annually, depending on your expected level of engagement.
  • Perks: Networking, career opportunities, advocacy, learning opportunities, and discounts (a full list of benefits can be found here.)

The A.C.N.M. Foundation, Inc.: a philanthropic arm of American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM)

  • Mission: The A.C.N.M is “the philanthropic arm of American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) with a mission to promote excellence in health care for women, newborns, and families worldwide through the support of midwifery.” You can choose to donate here!
  • Cost: N/A
  • Perks: N/A

The Pros

  • Able to deliver more holistic primary care 
  • More involved in a woman’s pregnancy 
  • Ability to spend more time to do teaching 
  • Care for both the mother and the infant 
  • Rewarding to be part of a family’s life event

The Cons

  • Stress due to unpredictable hours.  
  • Fatigue due to long hours during labor and delivery  
  • Insurance may not pay for all care delivered 
  • May be difficult to get hospital privileges 
  • Some view midwives with less respect 
  • Concern if there is a bad birth outcome 
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Personality Traits

  • Clear communicator 
  • Ability to act independently and remain calm 
  • Resourceful
  • Quick problem solver
  • Strong interest in pregnancy and childbirth
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Average Salary

A Certified Nurse Midwife typically makes between $78k - $119k with a median salary of $95K. For the most up-to-date salary information, check out Salary Explorer.

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Certifications

After becoming a CNM, to maintain your certification, you must do continuing education through the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB).

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Work Setting

Hospitals, private practice, birthing centers, and home births

Interested in learning more about what it’s like to be a Certified Nurse Midwife? We spoke to one to find out. Read What Does a Certified Nurse Midwife Do?