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Nurse Midwife Job Description, Career as a Nurse Midwife, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: License or Completion of Nursing School

Average Salary: $76,400 Annually

Job Outlook: Very Good

Job Description

A nurse midwife provides support and guidance throughout the birthing process. Though they have been around for years, midwives have only recently gained attention. Many women are opting for either natural births or births at home, and this is where a nurse midwife can be of great help. A nurse midwife may work alone or in conjunction with a doctor or medical team. They may work at a hospital as part of the team or staff, or they may work independently on a one-on-one basis with the patient.
A nurse midwife works to monitor the physical, emotional, and mental state of the mom throughout the birthing process. They are also integral at ensuring the safety of the baby and working with the woman throughout the birthing process. They are often involved throughout the pregnancy as either an alternative to a doctor or as a part of the medical team that a woman may see. They may handle everything from exams, to patient support, answering questions, and ensuring that the pregnancy remains healthy.
A nurse midwife checks vital signs throughout pregnancy and measures the progress of the baby. The role of a nurse midwife may be very important during the labor and delivery process. They tend to be more hands-on than doctors and work with the woman to provide the physical, mental, and emotional support that she needs. Oftentimes a nurse midwife works to keep the technical intervention to a minimum. This role often promotes a very limited use of medications or drugs throughout the labor and delivery process.
A nurse midwife may handle the delivery of a baby alone, though they will often require help if any problems may arise. They are not qualified to handle surgery, so they may be required to call on an OBGYN if a C-section or special attention is required. If there are no problems, then a woman may depend on her nurse midwife for everything from pregnancy through labor and delivery, and oftentimes may even look to them for postpartum support. This is a pivotal role to many women as they search for an alternative to modern medicine for their birthing process.

Education and Training Requirements

Though the role of nurse midwife isn’t new, it has only recently been a widely accepted and well known position. Therefore the training requirements tend to vary by state and by official role held by an individual. There are two major differences in the role of a nurse midwife—there is a certified nurse midwife and a licensed midwife.
To become a certified nurse midwife, one must have completed all of the requirements for a nurse directly. These are individuals who are registered nurses and for who have completed nursing school. They usually have a fair amount of experience within nursing and have chosen to turn that into the specific role of a nurse midwife. They may work alone in their own practice or may work at a hospital as part of a medical team.
To become a licensed midwife, an individual must successfully complete and pass midwifery school. This is currently only available in about 11 states, and therefore may be more unique position held within the role. This however involves sufficient passing of a licensing exam to be officially called and practice as a licensed midwife, so it is therefore a bit more specific and potentially educated in this specific area.

Getting the Job

Depending on the specific role and path that a nurse midwife takes, it may be very different in terms of the approach to get hired. For the certified nurse midwife, there may be a very solid nursing background complete with experience. This may be experience gained within the world of pregnancy and birth or elsewhere. To get hired as a nurse midwife therefore, it can be beneficial to have a great deal of nursing experience directly. It may be of even greater help if that experience is within the OBGYN area of medicine, as that will help them to get established and hired by patients.
If working as a licensed midwife, this shows a great experience in this specific area of medicine. This can help these individuals to get hired as it is a more unique and more focused concentration within this type of medicine. This shows experience and may instill confidence in the patients they serve. In either role, working as part of a medical team in either an OBGYN office directly, at a hospital, or any other medical facility may be of great help in getting hired. The more experience gained in this type of role, the easier they may find it get hired as they move throughout their career or move towards their own nurse midwife practice.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook, and Career Development

This is an area where there is a great potential for growth. With more women being focused on a natural birth and looking for a partner in the birthing process, this brings about great potential for a nurse midwife to get hired. Not only are patients seeking out individuals in this role directly, but so too are doctor’s offices, hospitals, and medical facilities. As the demand becomes greater from patients for this type of role and support, many medical facilities are working to bring individuals on in this role.
The increase in patient demand combined with the number of medical facilities wishing to add this role to their team all equals a great potential for getting hired into this role. This also means that there is great potential for growth for a nurse midwife. They may gain experience within a certain type of environment and then apply that to a more advanced role or to their own practice at some point.

Working Conditions and Environment

The conditions depend on the environment that a nurse midwife may work within. They may work within a doctor’s office directly, they may work at a hospital, they may work within a medical facility or clinic, or they may work at their own practice. They often work as any other medical professional in their patient care whereby they move from exam room to exam room to handle patient consultations. This is usually a pretty typical medical environment throughout the pregnancy.
When it comes to seeing patients through the birthing process, they may do this in their own office, at a hospital or medical facility, or even within the patient’s home. This depends on how their practice is set up, as well as the desires of the patient. They must be able to handle stress seamlessly as things may get pretty intense during the labor and delivery process. They must stay calm and work directly with the patient to help them through the pain and the anxiety that they may feel throughout the labor process, particularly if it is a natural birth without any medication. They must be able to make decisions quickly to ensure the safety and well being of the mother and baby.

Salary and Benefits

The average salary for a nurse midwife is generally around $76,400; however this can be a wide range depending on a number of factors. The salary may vary based on the environment that they practice within, the experience that they bring to the role, and the geographical location that they work within. This may also have a lot to do with their background and credentials as well. In terms of benefits, they usually receive some pretty generous benefits which include paid vacation and sick time, health insurance, flexible schedule, paid tuition, and a pension plan.

Where to Go for More Information

American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM)
8403 Colesville Rd., Suite 1550
Silver Spring MD 20910
(240) 485-1800

Midwives Alliance of North America
5426 Madison St.
Hilliard, Ohio 43026

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesHealth & Medicine