If you want to help women deliver babies but don’t want to become an obstetrician, you may want to pursue a career as a nurse midwife. The career requires more than a Bachelor of Science degree but less than a medical doctor degree. Nearly 6,000 nurse midwives practiced in the United States in May 2012. Nurse midwives also provide gynecological care, prescribe birth control medications and perform physical exams on women.


“U.S. News & World Report" ranked each school listed in the top 16 in 2011. The magazine sent surveys to deans, administrators and faculty of 38 schools with accredited degree programs, and 59 percent completed the surveys. The American College of Nurse-Midwives Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education has accredited all of the programs. Each program grants a master’s degree or doctorate. The program must demonstrate adequate fiscal resources, a commitment from administrators, scholarly productivity, exclusivity from other programs and certified faculty in order to earn accreditation.


The University of Pennsylvania’s nurse midwife program emphasizes public policy and fetal evaluation. Students learn how to deliver babies in a hospital, birth center or the mother’s home. Those who complete the program are eligible to be certified as a midwife and as a nurse practitioner. Graduates of the program have gone on to direct midwifery educational programs and become midwifery directors at large teaching and small community hospitals. Other top programs are at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts; and Yale, Columbia and Emory universities.


The University of Illinois at Chicago employed 16 nurse midwives on the faculty in 2013. Nurse midwives in the program delivered babies at nine sites. Graduates will receive a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. Those with the degree can be involved in direct patient care or develop and implement public health policies. Students in the midwifery program may also want to participate in the school’s interdepartmental graduate concentration in women’s health, a 12-credit program on women’s health issues from the point of view of multiple disciplines. “U.S. News & World Report” also favored programs at the Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing in Hyden, Kentucky; the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities; the University of Michigan and Vanderbilt University.


Oregon Health and Science University topped “U.S. News & World Report’s” list for 2011. Students in the program are eligible for certification after two years of study when they receive a master of nursing degree. Students will examine the influences of culture, tradition, social forces, economics and politics on women’s health. The ideal graduate will be compassionate, skilled and scholarly in the pursuit of caring for women. Some end up working for health maintenance organizations or in community health centers, migrant health clinics or private practices. The following universities also have reputable nurse midwife programs: California-San Francisco, New Mexico, Utah, Washington and Colorado-Denver.

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About the Author

Rudy Miller has been writing professionally since 1996. Miller is a digital team leader for lehighvalleylive.com, a local news website and content provider to the Express-Times newspaper in Easton, Pa. Miller holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Miami.