Nurse midwives provide gynecological and obstetric care to women throughout pregnancy, birth and the course of a lifetime, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you're considering a career in this advanced practice specialty, you'll need a Master of Science in nursing. The American College of Nurse-Midwives notes that post-bachelor's education programs should include an acceptable level of skill, knowledge and professional behavior courses approved by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education.
Accreditation for Your Education
Before choosing a college for your post-baccalaureate nurse midwife program, make sure the program has the proper accreditation. The American College of Nurse Midwives acknowledges that the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education is the agency that provides quality assessments and approval for midwife schools. Additionally, the ACNM notes that ACME is the only nationally recognized agency the accredits certified midwifery schools. The ACNM maintains a current list on their website that features all of the accredited nurse midwife programs that lead to certification.
Conquering the Criteria
The first step to becoming a nurse midwife is getting into college. Before applying to a graduate-level midwifery program, you'll need to make sure you meet all the requirements. Aside from having a bachelor's degree and a current RN license, most nurse midwife programs require students to have at least some practical work experience prior to application. Some colleges require all applicants to have a Bachelor of Science in nursing, while others -- such as California State University's MSN degree -- allow potential students to have a bachelor's in a related field. The specific amount of work-related experience necessary to apply to a midwife program varies depending on the school. California State University notes that applicants may have as little as six months of experience, but a full year is preferable. The experience must include working as a nurse in a labor and delivery or women's care specialization.
Mastering a Midwife Master's
The minimum educational requirement to become a certified nurse midwife is a master's degree. A nurse midwifery graduate college curriculum typically includes classroom learning as well as hands-on clinical practice. For example, the New York University's Master of Science in nurse-midwifery includes advanced-level coursework in nursing research, pathophysiology, pharmacology and professional issues as well as four levels of practicum courses that cover different aspects of caring for women through the lifespan as well as during childbirth.
Paging Doctor Midwife
Nurse midwifery classes don't stop at the master's level. Some schools also offer doctoral nursing programs that lead to a DNP in nurse midwife practice. For example, Baylor University's nurse-midwifery program offers a doctorate of nursing practice that prepares students to work as certified midwives in hospitals, doctor's offices and other medical settings. Likewise, the University of Illinois at Chicago has a DNP program in nurse midwifery. Students in these programs take courses that prepare them for leadership roles in their advanced practice specialties.