A nurse midwife is a healthcare professional whose job is to offer support as well as guidance all through the birthing process. As we all are aware, nurse midwives have been around for quite a long time now. However, during recent times they have been regaining popularity again. As more and more women are choosing to have a natural birth or home birth, the demand for nurse midwives has increased, and we might predict that the job outlook for nurse midwives is very good in the coming years, too. Now, let’s see the job description and career course map of nurse midwives here.
Job Description of a Nurse Midwife – An Overview
In general, a nurse midwife would work to monitor the physical, mental, as well as emotional states of the carrying mother all through the gestation process. Not only with the mom, but her role is also integral at looking to the safety of the baby by working with the mother through the gestation period. Most often, we can see the nurse midwife involved in a woman’s pregnancy in place of the doctor or work as a part of the healthcare team that the woman sees during her pregnancy. As such, a nurse midwife would work alone or in collaboration with a doctor or a medical team. Also, the workplace of the nurse midwives can be a hospital where they will work along with other staff or in a team, or, they will work independently one-on-one with the patient.
When it comes to duties of nurse midwives, it’s to be understood that a nurse midwife has to handle almost everything from patient examination, patient support, answering questions, and making sure that the pregnancy is progressing the right way healthily. In this line, a nurse midwife would check for the vital signs all through the gestation period and would measure the growth of the baby. The role of the nurse midwife would become very vital during the labor and delivery processes. Here, it’s to be noted that the nurse midwives would be more hands-on than the doctors and would work with the woman in labor by offering all kinds of supports she needs.
Being a nurse midwife, you would always try to keep the technical intervention to a minimum, and hence, your role would often promote the reduced use of medications and drugs all along the gestation journey of a woman. It’s also to be noted that being a nurse midwife, you will be able to handle the labor and delivery process all alone, although you would need an external help in case of any issues. Also, note that the nurse midwives will not be qualified to handle surgeries, and hence, you would have to call on the OB-GYN if a C-section or any other kind of special attention is required.
Therefore, we can say that if there is no problem with the pregnancy, then a nurse midwife can handle everything throughout the gestation period until delivery. More often, they will be called upon for postpartum support, too.
Clinical Duties of Nurse Midwives – A Detailed Description
Remember that nurse midwives are among the highly-trained of all the registered nurses out there. After your initial training and licensing processes, the nurse midwives-to-be will gain clinical experience in the following fields:
This is the most recognized part of your duty as a nurse midwife. As a nurse midwife, you would typically offer assistance to the pregnant mothers all through her birthing process. You would start to work with the pregnant mother from the pre-pregnancy counseling and work with her until postpartum care. During this time, you would monitor the mother’s and baby’s health wherein you would identify complications if any and refer the patients to the physicians if needed. You will also offer your assistance during childbirth wherein you would work to decrease the incidence, as well as the intensity of complications. Midwives are found to be attending almost seven percent of all childbirths in the country.
Regular Gynecological Care
It’s to be noted that several parts of the United States are experiencing a lack of primary care physicians, especially gynecologists. Remember, as a certified nurse midwife, you will be able to balance this deficiency by offering regular gynecological care in rural and remote regions. Being a certified midwife, you are skilled to carry out yearly exams, prescribe medications, and order for tests if needed. In addition, you can also offer counseling and family planning services by reiterating the patients on the pros and cons of birth control devices and contraceptives. As a midwife, you could also assist the women in going through their menopause and perimenopause. Whenever the patients are found to be experiencing significant health issues, you would have to refer them to the physicians for an increased level of care.
Like all the other medical professionals like physicians, nurse practitioners, primary care providers, and physician assistants, the duties of nurse midwives would also involve patient education. As a nurse midwife, you have to counsel women about the reproductive health, birth control, and fertility all through a woman’s reproductive years. In addition, you would have to provide counseling for the younger patients on puberty and older patients on menopause as both these represent some crucial changes in physiological functions of a woman. In this line, we have to understand that nurse midwives are the life coaches who would involve in patient education about diet and lifestyle in addition to reproductive health.
Becoming a Nurse Midwife
So, we have seen the job duties and responsibilities of nurse midwives above. Now, we shall learn how to become a nurse midwife. Yes, we agree that role of a nurse midwife is not new in our country. However, only recently the career has received increased attention and acceptance among us. It’s because of this reason the training needs are found to be varying from one state to another and also by the position held by you. In general, there are two major categories of nurse midwives, which are namely, a certified nurse midwife and a licensed midwife. In order to become a certified nurse midwife, you must have completed all the requirements of a registered nurse directly. Thus, you should have completed your nursing school education and would have a good amount of medical experience in nursing. In short, the certified nurse midwives are the registered nurses who have chosen to transform that into the specific position as a nurse midwife. The career path would generally include a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and then completing an MSN program with a specialization in midwifery.
On the other hand, the registered nurses with an associate’s degree in nursing or a certificate in nursing would be able to complete an RN to BSN programs, which will make you eligible for taking an MSN program. Remember, these programs would typically take one or two years for obtaining a BSN degree. Once you completed your midwifery education, you would have to pass the certification exam that is being conducted by the “American Midwifery Certification Board” to become certified and to practice as a nurse midwife. In order to become a licensed midwife, you must complete and pass your midwifery education, which is currently available only in around eleven states. This would also involve passing of a licensing examination to be called and to practice as a licensed nurse midwife.
Obtaining a Job in Nurse Midwifery
Depending on your role and the path that you take, the way you approach for a job in nurse midwifery would also differ. If you are a certified nurse midwife, then you will have a very strong nursing background and therefore, to find a job within the field of pregnancy and birth or elsewhere would be quite easy. It would be even easier to get hired by patients if your experience was within the OB-GYN field of medicine.
On the other hand, if you are a licensed midwife, again you would have a great experience in this particular area of medicine. Thus, it would help you to get hired by the patients with higher level of confidence. This is because your licensing shows your focused concentration and experience in the field thereby, instilling trust in the patients about you. In simple terms, in both the roles, working in a team of medical professionals in an OB-GYN office, hospital, or other medical facilities would help you progress in your career much easier.
Nurse Midwife Salary Range
It’s to be noted that the nurse midwifery is one of the highest-paying careers when it comes to registered nurses. According to payscale.com, the average annual salary of nurse midwives is found to be $90,482. As such, pay by experience for the nurse midwives are found to be showing a positive trend. The average salary of nurse midwives with less than five years experience is $87,000, with 5 to 20 years experience is $95,000, with more than 20 years of experience is $108,000. In short, the salary would vary depending on the work settings you practice within, the experience you gain, and the geographical location you practice within.