Nurse midwives provide care to women with an emphasis on gynecological and obstetrical services. They focus on health prevention and maintenance. Although their main emphasis is on natural childbirth practices, they are also able to prescribe drugs and utilize other medical technology when the situation calls for it. However, they only use these techniques when absolutely necessary for the health of the mother or child. They work in a variety of settings, including birth centers, hospitals, private practices, and community health clinics.
Nurse midwives are intimately involved with the labor and delivery phase of childbirth. They often stay by the side of the mother during the entire duration of the birth. If something goes wrong during the birth, they consult a physician who may intervene in the birth when necessary. They help with the delivery of babies in both hospitals and in home settings. In addition, they also provide families with family planning and birth control counseling, as well as routine gynecological services.
Nurse midwives need to have well-developed communication skills, and the ability to observe accurately and make decisions accordingly. They must be willing to work with a team, as well as supervise others. Due to the intense nature of the work, nurse midwives should be emotionally stable and have a sympathetic disposition.
In 2002, nurse midwives earned a median annual salary of $48,090. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10 percent, who earned less than $33,970, and the highest 10 percent, who earned more than $69,670.
Training and Education
Nurse midwives are registered nurses who have advanced training in the area of midwifery. They must first become registered nurses (RNs) by earning their nursing license. In order to obtain a nursing license, which is required by all 50 States and the District of Columbia, students must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass a national licensing examination. Candidates for registered nurse positions must obtain a bachelor's of science degree in nursing (BSN). BSN programs are offered through colleges and universities and take 4 years to complete. BSNs provide graduates with the most opportunity for advancement within the nursing profession.
After they have earned their BSN, students must then enter a nurse-midwifery program accredited by the American College of Nurse Midwives. On completion of their program, graduates must then become Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs) by passing a national examination. CNMs are able to practice midwifery anywhere in the United States. Click here to see a list of Nursing Schools, and/or to contact their admissions departments for more information.
In 2002, registered nurses, which includes nurse midwives, held approximately 2.3 million jobs, making the occupation the largest in the healthcare field.
Between 2002 and 2012, the number of nurse midwives is expected to increase faster than the average. More new RN jobs are expected to be created than any other occupation, mostly because of the need to replace aging registered nurses as they leave the profession. Factors such as the growing elderly population, general growth of healthcare, rising median age of registered nurses, increased emphasis on preventative treatment, and technological advances will keep registered nurses, including nurse midwives, in high demand.