Do you want to better the lives of women, children and families? Becoming a nurse-midwife can help you do just that. In addition to prenatal, postpartum and newborn care, a nurse-midwife also acts as the primary health care provider for women in any stage of life.
As with many healthcare occupations, the demand for nurse-midwives will likely expand in the coming years. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics places nurse-midwives in the category of advanced practice registered nurses and predicts that there will be a 31 percent growth in new positions through 2024. Part of this growing demand is in response to a national shortage of primary, reproductive and obstetric health care providers for women. According to the 2015 Midwifery Education Trends Report, prepared by the American College of Nurse-Midwives, a 25% shortage of obstetricians/gynecologists is predicted by 2030.
If you are a registered nurse who would like to gain more knowledge in women’s reproductive health care, with the aim of treating female patients or preparing for advancement in a woman’s specialty practice, an online Nurse-Midwifery registered nurse’s degree can help position yourself to make the change.
Nurse-Midwives focus on women’s health and obstetrics. In addition to providing specialized care for women, mothers and newborns, you may also consider a move to nurse-midwifery if you want to advance your career and improve your earning potential as a nurse.
Job prospects and earning potential
There’s no shortage of opportunities for nurse-midwives. According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives, Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs) “work in a variety of settings including practices, hospitals, birth centers, health clinics and home birth services…It is also possible for CNMs with entrepreneurial spirits to set up their own practices, establishing themselves as health care providers in the community of their choice.”
Even if your main priority for becoming a nurse-midwife is to care for women and newborns, there are significant salary considerations that may also be important to know as you plan the next step in your nursing career. In 2016, nurse-midwives earned an average salary of $102,390, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also reports percentile wage estimates for nurse-midwives:
Assist with hospital and out-of-hospital births
Midwives play an important role for women who choose to deliver with as few medical interventions as possible—whether at home, in a freestanding childbirth center or hospital. The percentage of midwife-assisted births in the US has risen nearly every year since 1989, the first year that such statistics were made available. In 2014, midwives (CNMs/CMs) attended 332,107 births, or 8.3 percent of total births in the United States that year.
Care for medically underserved women
As women’s health specialists providing health promotion, disease prevention and individualized wellness counseling, nurse-midwives provide crucial services for female patients who otherwise might not have access to the care they need, especially during their childbearing years. Statistics from the ACNM highlight the important role nurse-midwives play in caring for medically underserved women: In 2013, there were approximately 3.3 maternal care providers for every 10,000 women and girls care providers for every 10,000 women and girls.
Nurse-midwives and women’s health nurse practitioners (WHNPs) both provide medical care and wellness services for women. But while CNMs focus on women of childbearing age and newborns, WHNPs focus on the general and reproductive health of women across the lifespan.
|Job Tasks/Services Provided||Nurse-midwives may offer and perform the following services and tasks:
||WHNPs may offer and perform the following services and tasks:
|Career Outlook||Projected Job Growth (2016-26): 21%
Median Annual Wage: $99,770
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
|Projected Job Growth (2016-26): 36%
Median Annual Wage: $100,910
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
As you explore universities that offer online Nurse-Midwifery training programs, look to see that the curriculum is multi-disciplined and features a robust academic and research coursework. Additionally, look for a practicum component that will allow you to gain experience in one or more clinical settings. Both of these features will prepare you to provide outstanding treatment to women and newborns.
You may find nursing programs that rotate clinical hours between different care settings to provide wide exposure to real world treatment in clinics, hospitals and other health care settings.
In order to be a certified nurse-midwife, you must meet all requirements of a degree program that is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME). ACME-accredited programs adhere to the core curriculum for beginning midwifery practitioners. Only graduates from an accredited program will be eligible to sit for the AMCB exam.
Prospective nurse-midwives may also earn the distinction of certified professional midwife (CPM) by completing a program accredited by the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC). You may also earn CPM certification by passing a portfolio evaluation of your knowledge and skills.
In an online Nurse-Midwifery program you may focus on labor and delivery, as well as the reproductive health of women. You will be in the position to learn more about physiology, prenatal and postpartum care and advanced nursing and leadership roles. You may decide to take courses that focus on a management or education track, depending on whether you want to contribute to women’s health care as a clinician or educator. In addition to coursework, you may also be expected to fulfill clinical hours to successfully complete the program.
Some of the components of midwifery care that you can explore through an online nurse-midwife curriculum for registered nurses and clinical practicum include:
- Fetal anatomy and physiology
- Antepartum/intrapartum management
- Advanced women’s health/well-woman health care
The advent of online learning offers greater flexibility, which allows working students and individuals with families the opportunity to fit learning into their lives. But many online courses may have on-campus or clinical requirements that students should plan for.
Nurse-midwife clinical hours
Although some programs may appear to be 100 percent online, an online Nurse-Midwifery degree will require hands-on practice as part of the program requirements to help you build confidence and expertise. Clinical requirements must be completed in an approved clinical setting.
Institutions may have different requirements about where you practice your clinical hours, but most will work with you to do their best in helping you to do so near your community. Before enrolling in an online nursing-midwife degree program, review the requirements for clinical hours so you can practice close to home or make the necessary arrangements to complete the clinical component.
Immersions and intensives
As an online student, you may be required to visit the campus for immersion events or intensives that will help you integrate advanced clinical techniques and give you the opportunity to interact with faculty members, academic advisers and peers. These events may last a few days or a week, and some programs may require students attend more than one immersion event or intensive before the degree is awarded.
Prior to enrolling in an online nurse-midwifery degree, make sure you know how often you will be expected to visit the campus and what the live sessions are like.
The time to complete an online Nurse-Midwifery program varies, depending on course requirements and whether you attend full-time and meet all course requirements prior to enrolling. In general, an online program can take between 18 to 24 months for full-time students. Part-time options may be available at universities and usually take between three to four years.
Students who have their RN designation and bachelor’s degree may be eligible to enroll in an accelerated program, which will take less time to complete than a full-time program.
Advanced, online degree programs require you to meet the same requirements as on-campus classes — but there are key differences between an online and on-campus education. Although the flexibility of studying anywhere and anytime may sound ideal, it can also be a challenge if you enroll in a program that doesn’t offer a rich human component. Programs that feature live-streaming classes and group projects may feel more engaging — and depending on the type of student you are, may also help hold you accountable.
Although you will spend a lot of time studying and completing assignments on your own, there may be opportunities to interact with instructors and classmates at a distance through email, phone and video technology (and in some cases weekly sessions).
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