Understanding different types of certification for midwives

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Pre-midwifery students holding newborns in Chiang Mai! Being a midwife can be a great career choice. Midwives care for women and their newborn babies in hospitals, birthing centers and at home. Midwifery is a growing field. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of births attended by midwives has steadily increased since the mid-2000s. The CDC reports that midwives attend over eight percent of births in the United States.

Currently, in the United States, there are three different types of midwife certifications that you may want to consider. The type of midwife certification needed to be eligible to practice as a midwife varies by state. Before you decide on your path, it’s helpful to determine your state’s regulations.

Certified Nurse Midwife

Individuals who are certified as a nurse midwife have training as both registered nurses and midwives. If you are interested in becoming a certified nurse midwife, you will need to attend a midwife education program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education. Clinical education is supervised by a nurse midwife certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board.

Most programs result in a master’s degree or a doctorate.  Nurses who earn the certified nurse midwife credential are eligible to become licensed in any of the 50 states. 

Certified Midwife

Certified midwives, sometimes called direct entry midwives, must also attend an accredited midwifery program and meet the same clinical competencies as a certified nurse midwife. Some programs may require applicants to have experience in a health related field, although it varies by program. The main difference between the two credentials is certified midwives are not required to hold a registered nursing license.

The clinical skills required are the same for both certified midwives and certified nurse midwives. In addition, the certification exam is the same for both. The responsibilities on the job are also the same. A certified midwife program may be a good option for individuals who hold a bachelor’s degree and have some healthcare experience, but are not licensed as registered nurses.

Certified midwives are currently eligible to become licensed in New Jersey, Rhode Island and New York; however, regulations and laws regarding midwifery licensing are subject to change. If you are interested in becoming a certified midwife, check with the American Midwifery Certification Board for the latest state licensing information.

Certified Professional Midwife

A third type of certification is the certified professional midwife. The CMPs are certified through the North American Registry of Midwives. Certified professional midwives do not have to hold a specific degree or be registered nurses, but it is the only midwife certification that requires experience in home births.

There are different paths to obtaining the CMP certification. For instance, you can attend a midwife program accredited by the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council.

Another option to become certified is to complete the North American Registry of Midwives portfolio evaluation process. The process involves an evaluation of education and clinical experience. Experience may be gained through formal programs, apprenticeships or a combination of both. A rigorous written and clinical evaluation is required in order to earn the certification. 

According to the American Midwifery Certification Board, certified professional midwives are regulated in 27 states. Some states license CPMs while others require CPMs to apply for a permit to practice. 

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