What Is a Certified Nurse Midwife? Specialty Practice Areas Explained

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Have you ever wondered, “What is a certified nurse midwife?” Certified nurse midwives are advanced practice registered nurses who provide care to women in the form of family planning, prenatal care, childbirth and more. Marquette University’s DE-MSN program can lay the foundation for a future advanced practice nursing career.

midwife touching pregnant woman's stomach

Are you interested in entering the nursing profession and helping others? You can choose from numerous practice areas, depending on which resonates with you. Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) is a valued role that has helped countless persons, providing support and assistance during pregnancy and childbirth, and beyond.

If this specialty practice area interests you, know that to become a certified nurse midwife, you must meet qualification requirements and hold a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.

A program like Marquette University’s Second-Degree Direct Entry Master of Science in Nursing Program can help you enter the nursing field within 19–21 months and provide the foundation to enter this specialized role. Read on and learn the answer to “What is a Certified Nurse Midwife?” including roles, responsibilities, career outlook and more.

What Does a Certified Nurse Midwife Do?

Certified Nurse Midwives are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) whose primary role revolves around providing prenatal, childbirth, and postnatal care to reproductive persons throughout family planning, pregnancy and beyond. Certified nurse midwives work closely with other members of each patient’s healthcare team, such as obstetricians, nurses, physical therapists, social workers and other healthcare professionals. CNMs often work in settings including hospitals, public health clinics and birthing centers.

nurse midwife helping pregnant patient

Certified Nurse Midwife Responsibilities

Within their role, CNMs can take on a wide range of responsibilities, including:

  • Counseling and proving care regarding gynecological needs including (but not limited to):
    • Pap smear
    • Contraception
    • Sexual transmitted infections
    • Etc.
  • Confirming a pregnancy
  • Educating soon-to-be parents on the ins and outs of the birthing process
  • Guiding pregnant person through childbirth by assessing the conditions of the pregnant person and fetus, managing pain, and delivery
  • Providing care to the parent and infant immediately after birth

These are the highlights of the tasks and responsibilities of CNMs. Throughout nearly every aspect of reproductive health, pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum care, nurses in this specialized role can make a massive impact on patients during some of the most significant moments of their lives.

Nurse attending to patient with child

Certified nurse midwives care for patients during some of the most vulnerable and important times of their lives. See some of the top qualities of a nurse that will help you connect with and treat your patients.

Certified Nurse Midwife Career and Salary Outlook

The career outlook for CNMs is positive, and this practice area is growing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the role is projected to grow by as much as 40% by 2031. As more CNMs continue to provide care, their median wage reflects their centrality to the birthing process for many. U.S. News & World Report found that CNMs made a median salary of $112,830 in 2021. The role was also ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the best healthcare jobs available as of 2022.

How to Become a Certified Nurse Midwife

The certified nurse midwife role is appealing to many individuals looking to become a nurse due to its impact on the lives of patients and attractive career prospects. To enter this advanced practice nursing specialty, you must meet a number of academic and career requirements and complete the certification process.

1. Meet Academic Requirements

The academic requirements to become a CNM include a graduate degree, either an MSN or a DNP. Pursuing a traditional route of earning a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, then earning a graduate degree and gaining certification could take six to eight years.

Marquette’s DE-MSN program, on the other hand, is designed to build on a non-nursing bachelor’s degree and deliver a graduate-level curriculum on an accelerated timeline. This curriculum includes either in-person or online-based didactic coursework, depending on the program site location. Students enrolled at Marquette’s main Milwaukee campus will complete the majority of their coursework in person, while students enrolled at our Pleasant Prairie learning site will complete asynchronous didactic coursework online.

two nursing student studying at a table

Regardless of the location that students are enrolled in, students in Marquette’s DE-MSN program will complete on-site skills labs and clinical simulations, as well as in-hospital clinicals at top regional healthcare facilities.

After graduating in 19 to 21 months, passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN®) and becoming a nurse, you will be eligible to apply to enroll in a post-certificate graduate program nurse-midwifery program to pursue this exciting advanced practice role.

two nursing students working with a sim manikin

Still curious about what it’s like to earn your MSN degree? Learn more about the experience and work you will need to complete.

2. Go Through the Certification Process

After graduating with a traditional MSN degree or Post-Master certificate in nurse-midwifery you will be eligible to sit for certification through the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). According to the Board, the purpose of certification for the certified nurse midwife role is “To set the national standard for the profession of midwifery and to protect the public by ensuring that certified individuals have met pre‐determined criteria for safe practice.”

This is the final test before becoming a nurse midwife, and upon passing the exam, you will need to apply for licensure then you are ready to enter this highly fulfilling and rewarding practice area. Once in the profession, fulfilling continuing education commitments is essential to maintaining certification and continuing to practice.

Ready to Pursue This Specialty Nursing Practice Area?

smiling nursing student

With more information on exactly what a certified nurse midwife is and more knowledge of this role and career prospects, you have the background needed to decide whether this specialty practice area is worth pursuing. For this and many other specialty practice areas in nursing, the process starts with earning an MSN degree.

Contact us today, and a Marquette University admissions adviser will work with you to answer questions and begin the application process.