Midwives are caregivers and medical professionals who take a holistic approach to women’s and infants’ pregnancy, childbirth, and postnatal care. Midwives can earn one of two certifications. Certified Midwife is the first (CM). Although the CM credential does not require a nursing background, practicing midwifery under this designation is illegal in the majority of states. The Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) certificate is the best option for those who want to practice anywhere in the United States. A background in nursing is required for CNM certification.
Candidates must first complete an academic program in midwifery that is approved the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM) Division of Accreditation, whichever route they choose (DOA). Before enrolling in a midwifery program, those without a nursing background must have a bachelor’s degree with a focus on science courses such as biology, chemistry, and anatomy. If the candidate’s bachelor’s degree program does not meet the prerequisites, some courses may be required before enrolling in a midwifery school. CM programs are typically three years in length and cover the same material as a certified nurse midwife program.
A nursing degree is required for those seeking certification as a Certified Nurse Midwife. Every midwife must have at least a bachelor’s degree, and many complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing to become a Registered Nurse (RN) before continuing on to a master’s degree program to complete midwifery requirements. A post-baccalaureate certificate is currently available, and some students continue on to a PhD program. By 2010, every certified nurse midwife who wants to work in the field will have to finish a graduate program.
Candidates may take the national certification exam after completing an approved academic program. Candidates receive either the Certified Midwife or Certified Nurse Midwife credential after passing the exam. The American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) issues these certificates, which are valid for eight years.
Midwives must complete continuing education credits over an eight-year period. The Certification Maintenance Program is what it’s called (CMP). At the end of the eight-year period, if the continuing education requirements are met, a new license will be issued. If not, the midwife will be denied a new license until she retakes and passes the national certification exam. Certified nurse midwives, like any other medical professional, must stay current on new techniques and procedures to ensure that their patients receive the best possible care.