A nurse-midwife is an important part of the health care community who helps women during and after their pregnancies. Not only do nurse-midwives offer assistance during all stages of pregnancy, they can also help families plan for parenthood. Keep reading to learn more about this rewarding career and find out how you can become a nurse-midwife.
About Nurse Midwife
Nurse-midwives are skilled health professionals who work with female patients and families in a variety of clinical settings. They can diagnose and treat patients on their own or refer them to a specialist if necessary. They work closely with physicians and nurses, and they’re a vital part of the health care team. Depending on which state they work in, they can generally order medical tests, prescribe medications, diagnose health problems, and provide primary and preventive care.
Education and Experience Needed
If you’re interested in becoming a nurse-midwife, you must get a graduate degree. Almost all graduate degree programs require you to have a bachelor’s degree before you’ll be admitted. Some programs also require that you be a registered nurse, but this isn’t always the case. Some nurse-midwives choose to obtain a Doctor of Nursing Practice or a Doctor of Philosophy degree.
Most degree programs combine clinical experience with classroom education courses in pharmacology, physiology, and anatomy. To earn your degree, you must complete a nationally accredited program and pass the national certification exam. You must hold an active license in any state where you want to practice. Even after you graduate, you’ll need to re-certify at least every four or five years, depending on the type of license you have.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for a nurse-midwife in May 2016 was $99,770. However, these salaries can vary widely, depending upon where you practice in the country, whether you live in an urban or rural area, the number of hours you work, the type of care you provide, and the benefits package you might have.
Average Duties and Tasks
While most people know that a nurse midwife assists women who are giving birth, many people don’t realize that a nurse-midwife has many other responsibilities. In fact, nurse midwives offer care and counseling from before conception through the postpartum period. They also provide routine gynecological services, write prescriptions, and offer education about peri- and post-menopausal care.
Because babies have their own schedules, a nurse midwife’s day is always varied. However, if you become a nurse-midwife, you can expect to provide gynecological care to women, which includes family planning counseling, exams, and prenatal care. You’ll provide wellness care to your patients, which means you’ll educate them on how to lead a healthy life by discussing exercise, nutrition, and disease prevention. You might also help your patients’ partners with any sexual or reproductive health issues.
You’ll deliver babies, which means you must also be able to handle emergency situations, such as breach babies and hemorrhaging. You must be able to repair lacerations, and you might have to provide surgical assistance to a physician if the pregnant mother is having a cesarean section. Once the baby is born, you’ll be the primary care provider for both the mother and the newborn.
The majority of nurse-midwives work in physicians’ offices. However, some nurse-midwives also work in hospitals, outpatient care centers, birthing centers, and private practices. You’ll work full time, although your hours may vary depending on where you work. If you work in a physician’s office, you’ll likely keep regular business hours. However, other facilities might require night, weekend, and holiday hours. You’ll also likely have to fill some on-call shifts to deliver babies whenever they decide they’re ready to come.
A career as a nurse-midwife will open the doors to other advancement opportunities. If you desire, you can choose to move into a management role as you gain more experience. In this position, you’ll supervise other nurses and midwives as they care for patients.
Another direction this career path can take you is into education and research. On the education side, you could become a lecturer or professor to help other nurse-midwife students learn the skills and knowledge they need to graduate. On the research side, you could have a clinical role as you work with researchers at various facilities.
If you’re searching for a rewarding career, working as a nurse-midwife might be the answer for you. Consider the information you learned here about education requirements and average daily duties to decide if this is the right career for you.