Complete Job Description of a Certified Nurse Midwife

A Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) is a registered nurse with at least one year of experience as a Registered Nurse (RN) and then a 2-4 year midwifery training program. A CNM will perform gynecological and breast exams on patients, as well as assist with births performed at hospitals, clinics, birthing centers, and home deliveries. At times, a CNM may see adult male patients with reproductive health issues or Sexually Transmitted Infections.

Certified Nurse Midwives Roles and Responsibilities

The main duties of a CNM are assisting women through all the stages of the birthing process. Being aware of any birth problems or reproduction issues is one of the duties of the CNM as well. CNMs are registered nurses, and medical experts in labor and delivery, as well as pre- and post-natal care. They hold an advanced practice registered nursing degree. For events like emergency labor, the nurse-midwife responsible and capable of ensuring either a safe delivery with the goal of avoiding a cesarean section, or a safe transport to a surgical team, if required. Certified Nurse Midwives are also charged with keeping the pregnant person relaxed and calm for a better outcome in pregnancy, labor, and delivery. CNMs also learn clinical and administrative duties to serve their patients better.

A certified nurse midwife works with patients as newborn babies, and then from adolescence into older age. The skills needed to be a Certified Nurse Midwife are pre-natal and post-natal care, understanding and exploring the medical history of patients, and showing compassion and empathy to all to the patients. A Certified Nurse Midwife must also have interpersonal communication skills. Some core courses in the field are Chemistry and Biology, Family and Community Health, and Ethics. Maintaining a GPA of a 3.0 or higher is required. Having the ability to think critically, plus paying attention to detail, will help the CNM in the field of Midwifery.

Career Outlook

The day to day tasks of a Certified Nurse Midwife can be stressful. Many are on-call and work long hours, assisting with multi-day long labor and deliveries. To work as a certified nurse midwife, state licensure is required. An applicant can receive their licensure and certification by the AMCB, the American Midwifery Certification Board. Some licenses are accepted state to state by endorsement, but not necessarily the CNM exam. The CNM exam will most likely be retaken if you move out of the state where you earned your licensure. The certification is good for five years, after which it must be renewed. The training for the certification on Midwifery takes between two-three years. The average pay for a certified nurse midwife is $92,510 annually.  

Many CNM workers find employment at women’s health clinics and birthing centers. Working in the obstetrics ward of a hospital is also common. There are private practice clinics that specialize in home births that are common among CNMs,  while some even volunteer their skills overseas. There are women in other countries that have no means to receive prenatal or postnatal care. Completing an international midwifery internship, which takes about 12-24 months, will provide an applicant with an incredible cultural opportunity with a life-changing experience.

Advanced Degrees

Technically, a CNM is an advanced degree holder. The four-year program following nursing school says so. To take it a step further, CNMs can earn a Doctorate in Nurse Midwifery. In fact, it may be a requirement to practice soon. The acronym APRN refers to any person who holds an advanced practice degree and is a registered nurse. These are nurses with post-graduate education in nursing. According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the most common among them is the CNM, as roughly 4.8% of Certified Nurse Midwives have doctoral degrees, the highest proportion of all APRN groups.

Since a Doctor of Philosophy or Doctorate degree is the highest credentialed learning one can achieve in a given field, it is an accomplishment worth celebration no matter what. For obstetric nurses, earning a PhD in Midwifery as a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) is no exception. Before earning a Doctoral degree in Midwifery, an applicant needs to have earned their Bachelor’s in nursing and Master’s in Midwifery.