How to Become a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)

SimpleNursing Editorial Team Apr 3, 2023
Certified nurse midwife and pregnant patient sitting on a couch

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  1. What is a CNM?
  2. What does a certified nurse midwife do?
  3. Certified Nurse Midwife Salary
  4. 5 Steps to Become a Certified Nurse Midwife

If you’re looking for a career supporting the health and well-being of pregnant patients and their families during some of the most critical moments of their lives – being a certified nurse midwife (CNM) could be your calling.

CNMs are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who specialize in providing care to patients during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum. They also provide a range of reproductive health services, including gynecological exams, family planning counseling, and menopause management. 

You can become a CNM by earning a graduate degree, gaining experience, and obtaining certified nursing midwifery certification.

What is a CNM?

A CNM is a licensed healthcare professional who provides primary healthcare services to pregnant patients throughout their lives, focusing on reproductive and maternal health. CNMs are trained to provide a range of services, including prenatal care, childbirth assistance, gynecological care, family planning, and menopausal care. 

They work collaboratively with other healthcare professionals, such as obstetricians, pediatricians, and primary care providers, to ensure that patients receive comprehensive care.

CNMs have the opportunity to build strong relationships with their patients, provide individualized care, and significantly impact the health and well-being of pregnant patients and families.

Nursing students should consider becoming a CNM because it can be a rewarding and fulfilling career path that offers high autonomy, responsibility, and patient interaction. Additionally, CNMs earn competitive salaries and have career advancement and specialization opportunities.

Read more about other types of nurses here.

What does a certified nurse midwife do?

In their day-to-day, CNMs may perform physical exams, order and interpret diagnostic tests, develop and manage care plans, prescribe medications, and provide education and counseling to patients and their families.

In addition, they work collaboratively with physicians, nurses, and other healthcare providers to provide comprehensive care. CNMs can work in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, clinics, birth centers, or private practices. 

At each stage of a patient’s pregnancy, you can expect a CNM to:

  • Monitor the pregnant patients and their fetuses’ health, provide regular check-ups, and assist with developing birth plans during the prenatal period
  • Provide support and care, help manage pain, and monitor the progress of labor during labor and delivery
  • Provide postpartum care, including monitoring the health of the mother and newborn, providing breastfeeding support, and addressing any issues that may arise after delivery

Certified Nurse Midwife Salary

According to Glassdoor, the median total pay for a CNM in the United States is approximately $89,786 per year, with an average salary of $86,127 per year

How to Become a Certified Nurse Midwife (in 5 Steps)

Here are the general steps to becoming a CNM for nursing students (steps may vary depending on which US state you practice in):

1. Attain an undergraduate degree in nursing.

You must obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree or equivalent from an accredited nursing program.

2. Obtain a registered nurse (RN) license. 

After passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), you can receive your registered nursing (RN) license.

3. Gain nursing experience.

Graduate programs for CNMs typically require at least one year of nursing experience in labor and delivery, obstetrics, or maternal health.

4. Apply to and graduate from an ACME-accredited graduate program. 

Most CNM programs require a master’s degree in nursing, although some offer a doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) degree.

You must complete the CNM program (which typically takes two to three years), and includes clinical rotations and coursework in midwifery, pregnant patients’ health, and neonatal care.

5. Earn CNM certification. 

Graduates gain CNM certification by passing the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) certification exam. This certification means you meet the standards of the AMCB and are authorized to practice in all 50 states legally. 

While CNMs can practice independently in most states, some states mandate physician oversight, so make sure to check with your local nursing board.

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