Getting into a nurse midwife program in the US or Canada is a little different from . For one, in the US, you need a bachelor’s degree to apply to any of the 40 or so programs in the US. However, the six nurse midwife programs in Canada are direct-entry, meaning you can apply directly from high school. There’s also the matter of the you have or want to pursue. You can become either a certified-nurse midwife (CNM) or certified midwife (CM), with the former requiring you be a registered nurse (RN), while the latter is for non-RN candidates. This article will detail more about what roles nurse midwifes play in women’s health, give you a list of programs in both countries, and give you expert guidance on what you need to get into any nurse midwife programs.
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In the US, the type of nurse midwife program you enter and the degree it offers matters because of licensing requirements. The two credentials we mentioned are the two most popular, but there are important differences. CNMs are also registered nurses (RN) who have state and national certification, so they can practice in all 50 states. CMs are not registered nurses and are only certified to practice as CMs in nine states in the US, including Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
You can also apply to these various nurse midwife programs:
We mention all this so that we can group the list of all the different nurse midwife programs in the US and the various routes you can take to earn any of these degrees or credentials.
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List of Nurse Midwife Programs in the US (direct-entry, bachelor or master-level programs for non-nursing students)
A nurse midwife is someone who helps support women’s gynecological and reproductive health throughout their lives through both holistic and evidence-based means. Nurse midwifes are not OBGYN physicians or surgeons and neither are they medical doctors. As we outlined above, a majority of nurse midwifes are either registered nurses with a bachelor’s or master’s in nursing or have completed a four-year bachelor’s program in another field, but have earned a two- or three-year degree in midwifery through an accredited nurse midwife program.
Nurse midwifes work in various settings, from hospitals, private clinics, and urgent care clinics to birthing centers and even a patient’s home. The role of a midwife is an ancient one, but the practice has evolved with advances in medical science. Now, midwifes, with various levels of education and training, continue the tradition of attending to a women’s physiological needs before, during, and after pregnancy but with more knowledge and a greater support system.
Despite their association with pregnancy, and birth, many modern-day midwives are also qualified to help address other areas of women’s health. They can help diagnose and treat sexually transmitted infections, offer preventative health advice for both men and women, and support other healthcare and non-healthcare professionals in treating underserved women, and children.
During pregnancy, if a woman decides to give birth outside of a hospital, or any non-clinical setting, a midwife is usually the person who guides them through the process. They help create a birthing plan and monitor a women’s health throughout her pregnancy along with her doctors, while also providing post-natal care to newborns. Nurse midwifes are also trained to recognize when a medical intervention is necessary during the birthing process.
Nurse midwives can work in private practice, as part of a larger group practice, or within a community-based practice. In communities where access to primary care physicians or healthcare is scarce, nurse midwives can also step in to treat, diagnose and prescribe treatments or medications for non-urgent issues in men, women, and children. But aside from providing healthcare, nurse midwives fill another crucial role, which is to be an advocate for all women, at any age.
While OBGYNs and other medical professionals always strive to provide the best care, the patient volume for some means that they may not always have time to address secondary or tertiary issues, leaving patients unable and unwilling to express their needs beyond primary patient care. A nurse midwife fills the gap between a patient and their primary care physician to help them address various aspects of their health and well-being whether it be psychological or mental-health concerns, substance abuse counseling, parenting methods, or post-partum care.
We talked a little about what it takes to become a nurse midwife in the US, but we’ll go into more detail about the various pathways you can take depending on the type of student you are. There are a variety of nurse midwife programs in the US that are either associated or offered by some of the best nursing schools in the country, and depending on the nurse midwife program, the degree or credential offered, there may be different nursing school requirements you have to meet.
If you live in the US and want to pursue a four-year bachelor’s of midwifery program, then there are a limited number of programs you can enter. Direct-entry nurse midwife programs are overseen and accredited by another accreditation body – the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (). MEAC oversees the programs that are not graduate-level degree nurse midwife programs, but direct-entry programs aimed at high-school students who wish to enter the field of midwifery without a nursing degree. The MEAC has only accredited ten programs as of this writing, but graduates from these programs can also apply to graduate programs accredited by either the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM) or the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME) as non-nursing applicants to further their education and become licensed to practice in various states.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
In the US, the most common way to become a nurse midwife is to get a bachelor’s of nursing degree first and then apply for a specialization in nurse midwifery at the graduate level. The majority of nurse midwife programs are master or doctorate-level, with nurse-midwifery being a particular specialization you can take, among many others, including family nurse practitioner, women’s health nurse practitioner, and pediatric nurse practitioner.
If you have already graduated with a BSN, have become a registered nurse, and decide to become a certified-nurse midwife (CNM) you are essentially applying to a , as you have completed your four-year nursing degree, but want to gain knowledge and skills in midwifery. The length of these programs also varies, but they typically run between one or two years, depending on the nurse midwife program. The admissions requirements are also similar to any master-level program. You have to submit a , and up to two or three .
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
As we mentioned, you can take a master of nursing degree after you complete your BSN (BSN-only; many nurse midwife programs will not accept any other nursing degree such as Associate of Science in Nursing (ADN)) with a specialization in nurse midwifery, but that’s not the only way to gain experience as a midwife. Another option is to take a dual-specialization within a specific nurse midwife program, such as the Nurse-Midwives (CNM) and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioners (WHNP) degree program at the University of Utah College of Nursing. But, depending on the nurse midwife program you are entering, you can also elect to focus on midwifery training in an advanced, Doctor of Nursing Practice program with a concentration on midwifery. You may only have the option to take a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, as many nurse midwife programs have decided to offer midwifery at the doctorate-level.
Doctor of Nursing Practice Program (DNP)
Many nurse midwife programs have started to move away from offering a nurse midwifery specialty at the master’s level and have created a doctorate-style degree where you can take a specialization in midwifery or other concentrations. But unlike traditional PhDs, you do not have to have a master’s to apply. You can apply only with a BSN, be a registered nurse, and, for some programs, have at least one or two years of nursing experience. The same structure applies to DNP programs as master-level programs, in that you apply for the degree and then choose a specialty within it, one of which could be midwifery. A DNP does not take as long as a PhD either. Many DNP programs run only two or three years, do not require a dissertation or thesis defense, and cost much less than a PhD in Nursing.
Once you have completed these nurse midwife programs, if you want to add the certified nurse midwife (CMN) credential to your BSN, MSN, DNP and RN credentials, you have to take the national licensing exam overseen by the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). Only passing the AMCB exam will give you the CNM designation that will allow you to practice as a nurse midwife, although you can still apply your knowledge as a nurse midwife without the credential, since you have already completed two nursing degrees and are a registered nurse.
In Canada, the route to becoming a nurse midwife is much more direct and does not require as many degrees or specializations. The system in Canada is largely direct-entry, meaning all the nurse midwife programs in Canada are offered at the bachelor level, not the graduate level. You can enter directly from high school without a background in nursing, although each program will have different admission requirements.
The program at the University of British Columbia requires you complete at least 2 post-secondary classes in biology and English if you apply as a high school student. But you can also apply as a mature student, as long as you have completed a total of 24 post-secondary credits, and have a minimum GPA of 3.0. Another application requirement of the UBC program, and a majority of the other nurse midwife programs in Canada, is submitting CASPer scores.
Given the fact that a nurse midwife is a patient-facing discipline, nurse midwife programs in Canada want to measure your capabilities in dealing with various patient scenarios, which is what the CASPer test does – a . You should read over CASPer practice questions if you’re preparing to apply to any of the six nurse midwife programs in Canada, as they all require you take the CASPer test.
But some of the nurse midwife programs in Canada have also created pathways for practicing, registered nurses to earn a specialization in midwifery through advanced standing programs. Completing a four-year bachelor degree in midwifery qualifies you to take the Canadian licensing exam for nurse midwives, the Canadian Midwifery Registration Examination (CMRE).
1. You Must get a Nursing Degree (Bachelor’s or Masters)
In the US, getting a bachelor’s of nursing degree is the most convenient way to get any training in nurse midwifery to complete the licensing requirements, other than entering a bachelor of midwifery program. Taking a traditional BSN program will not only complete the requirements of most master or doctoral programs, but it will also give you a good foundation in the medical sciences that are the basis of any healthcare profession. You can also find a nurse midwife program that will let you enter a master or DNP program directly from an undergraduate degree or a that will let you do the same.
2. You Need to have a Competitive GPA
Nurse midwife programs have minimum GPA requirements as any other graduate or master-level degree, which is another reason to get a bachelor’s degree first, at least in the US. In Canada, you also have to have minimum GPA for your high school credits or any post-secondary classes or courses you take to prepare for midwifery. If your GPA is not at or even near the minimum of the nurse midwife programs you’re applying to, you can take extra-credit courses at the same university, or complete upper-level science courses in a post-bacc or as stand-alone courses to increase your GPA.
3. Familiarize Yourself with the CASPer Exam
This applies more to nurse midwife programs in Canada, as the ones in the US do not usually require CASPer scores, but may ask for standardized test scores, such as , if your GPA is not at the minimum. However, in Canada, many nurse midwife programs including where the CASPer was created – – require it, so you need to invest and dedicate enough time to . You can use the number of various free CASPer resources, or hire help to show you a more personalized way such as reading up on current events, keeping abreast of new developments in healthcare or nursing, and educating yourself on various policy points dealing with nursing, midwifery and women’s health, in general.
4. Prepare for your Interview
This applies to nurse midwife programs in the US and Canada, as they each have an interview component, even for bachelor’s programs in Canada. The interview format is typically panel interviews. Neither country uses MMI for nursing school interviews, so you’re better off preparing for your interview by thinking about responses to common such as “” or . Your interview performance will factor heavily in your admission decision. Nurse midwifery specialization is very specific, especially since there are other, equally vital specializations you can take within an MSN or DNP degree program, so you need to talk about what specifically about the field draws you to it, which may require explaining so in your interview. You can also choose to describe the or made you want to become a nurse midwife either during your interview or in an essay.
Nurse midwife programs are different in the US and Canada, with the US having the most pathways, but also requirements for becoming a nurse midwife. You can choose to be different types of nurse midwife in the US, depending on the level and amount of education and training you are willing to take. In Canada, the path is much simpler, but you can also add more specializations to your degree if you choose, either during the program, or after you complete your bachelor’s degree.
1. What are nurse midwifes?
Nurse midwifes are involved in all aspects of women’s health, but they are usually trained to help pregnant women through pre-and-post-natal care through natural, time-tested techniques or evidence- based methods. Nurse midwives can also act as primary care givers for women and children if they have training or a specialization in a sub-specialty, such as women’s health practitioner or a pediatric concentration.
2. How do you become a nurse midwife?
There are many pathways you can take to become a midwife in the US, depending on your education and background. Most midwives in the US must pass licensing exams given by the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) after they complete either an MSN or DNP in nurse midwifery to receive either the certified nurse midwife (CNM) or certified midwife (CM) credential. But you can also apply to a bachelor’s program in midwifery to become a licensed midwife (LM) or certified midwife (CM). In Canada, you must complete a four-year bachelor’s degree in midwifery, and then take your licensing exam.
3. What do I need to become a nurse midwife?
In the US, you need to have completed a bachelor’s degree in nursing, but you can also apply to direct-entry programs without any nursing experience. However, some graduate level programs require that you have RN certification to apply, along with a minimum 3.0 GPA, letters of recommendation, and perform well in your interview.
4. How long does it take to be a nurse midwife?
In either Canada or the US, it can take anywhere between four to six years to be either a certified nurse midwife or a certified midwife. The latter requires you have RN certification, which means you have to complete at least four years of a BSN or two-years of associate degree in nursing. In Canada, it takes less time, as you can complete a four-year degree and then take your licensing exam, if you decide not to pursue a master’s or doctorate.
5. How much do nurse midwifes make?
In the US and Canada, your salary as a nurse midwife depends on your level of education, years of experience and any specialized training you have. If you have completed a bachelor’s and a graduate degree, along with earning certification as a CNM or a CM, you can expect to start earning between $80,189 and $100,035 per year.
6. How many nurse midwife programs are there?
There are close to 40 different nurse midwife programs in the US, which are accredited by the ACME. In Canada, there are only six nurse midwife programs throughout the country.
7. Is it hard to become a nurse midwife?
In the US, it might take longer to become a CNM or CM given the education levels you have to pass, but nurse midwife programs in the US also boast high pass rates for certification to these programs, so it is not hard to get certified. In Canada, it takes less time, as you can complete your four-year degree and then take the licensing exam.
8. Should I become a nurse midwife?
Being a nurse midwife brings together the millennia of experience that women have learned from participating in natural births with important knowledge about women’s health learned in the modern era. If you want to combine these two approaches, then becoming a nurse midwife may be a good choice for you.