How To Become A Midwife Without A Nursing Degree
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Midwifery is a demanding profession. Still, multiple people are doing their best to enter it as it also incredibly satisfying and necessary for society.

There is a common notion that it is only possible to enter midwifery only with a nursing degree. This is not so. It is possible to choose one of the alternative paths to midwifery, such as the following:

  • Certified Professional Midwife (CPM)
  • Certified Midwife (CM)
  • Traditional Midwife

These midwives are sometimes referred to as Direct-Entry Midwives.

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How To Become A Midwife Without A Nursing Degree?

Currently, there are four pathways to becoming a midwife:

Certified Nurse Midwife

A) Certified Professional Midwife (CPM)

Here are the steps to become a certified professional midwife:

  • Complete High School.
  • Apply to a midwifery program accredited by the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC).
  • Pass the so-called Portfolio Evaluation Process (PEP) that includes the hours of training and hours of Continuing Education Coursework.
  • Pass the North American Registry of Midwife (NARM) certification exam.
  • Apply for the state license (if the state allows licensure of direct-entry midwives).

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B) Certified Midwife

To become a certified midwife, one has to complete the following steps:

  • Complete high school
  • Complete a Bachelor Degree in a Health/Biology – related discipline (other than nursing).
  • Obtain a Masters Degree in a Health-related discipline other than nursing that includes necessary coursework.
  • Apply for a Direct-entry Midwife program that offers an Advanced Degree in Midwifery or Masters in Midwifery and is accredited by Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME).
  • Pass the national certification exam offered by the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB).
  • Apply for the state license.

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C) Traditional midwife

The traditional midwife program requires the following criteria:

  • Obtain a high school diploma.
  • Apprentice with a mentor that is a certified midwife and/or complete a program that follows Midwives Alliance of North America curriculum and core competencies.
  • Optionally get certified through NARM portfolio evaluation process and NARM certification exam.

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What are midwifery programs for non-nurses?

Midwifery Programs

There are 3 categories of midwifery programs that are available for people without a nursing degree:

  • Programs that require a high school diploma only and prepare students for the Certified Professional Midwife certification (CPM).
  • Programs that require a Bachelor/Masters degree and offer a graduate program in Midwifery for applicants outside of nursing. They result in a Masters in Midwifery degree.
  • Mentorships and courses that are not MEAC – accredited and follow MANA competencies requirements. The graduates can either continue their education further to get licensed or practice as traditional midwives.

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How are direct-entry midwives licensed?

Currently, the laws concerning licensing of direct-entry midwives vary from state to state. In many states, only licensing for certified nurse-midwives is available. There is general mistrust for professionals without nursing or medical degree.

With the development of licensing exams and the licensing board’s appearance for direct-entry midwives, some states have developed a licensing legislature for this health professional group.

Currently, the following states allow direct-entry midwives practice if they follow the necessary legal procedures:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Idaho
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Each state has its own rule about licensure, the scope of practice, and the rights to administer certain types of drugs.

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What are programs for Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) like?

As licensing of direct-entry midwives is limited in many states, there are few programs in Midwifery for non-nurses.

  • Most direct-entry programs for certified professional midwives take around 3 years. The standard curriculum includes academic courses in prenatal, labor, and postpartum care, and newborn care.
  • All programs also require practice under the guidance of a preceptor who is a certified professional midwife or certified nurse-midwife.
  • Most schools require applicants to complete doula courses, CPR courses, and college courses in Math and English before applying for a midwifery program placement.

Here is the shortlist of programs that are currently active and are certified by MEAC:

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1) Birthwise Midwifery School, Bridgton, ME.

Birthwise Midwifery School

The school currently offers the following programs:

  • Midwifery certificate program (CPM).
  • Doula training
  • Continuing education courses

What is essential to know about Birthwise Midwifery school:

  • The school offers both on-campus and community options.
  • The school accepts applicants with a high school diploma that have also attended a doula training workshop and a CPR course.
  • The school puts emphasis on mindfulness and traditional techniques.
  • The school has a partnership with Goddard College. The graduates can use their credits from the school to continue their education and get a Bachelor’s degree in Health Arts and Sciences.
How To Become A Midwife Without A Nursing Degree? 7 Reference: “Home – Birthwise Midwifery School”. Accessed November 06, 2020. Link.

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2) National College of Midwifery, Taos, NM.

National College Of Midwifery

The school offers the following programs:

  • Associate of Science in Midwifery (ASM) degree.
  • Bachelor of Science in Midwifery.

What is essential to know about the National College of Midwifery:

  • The program is flexible and can last from 2.5 to 5 years.
  • ASM students in California are also required to complete two additional courses: college-level Chemistry and Child Growth and Development.
  • The students need to have a contract with a clinical and academic preceptor before applying to the college.
  • The academic portion of the curriculum can be adjusted and is self-paced.
How To Become A Midwife Without A Nursing Degree? 7 Reference: “Philosophy | National College of Midwifery”. Accessed November 06, 2020. Link.

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3) Florida School of Traditional Midwifery, Gainesville, FL.

Florida School Of Traditional Midwifery

The school offers the following programs:

  • Direct-entry midwifery program
  • 4-month licensure program

What is essential to know about the Florida School of Traditional Midwifery:

  • The program takes approximately 3 years.
  • After the graduates pass the NARM exam, they are eligible for the Florida Licensed Midwife degree (LM) and Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) degree.
How To Become A Midwife Without A Nursing Degree? 7 Reference: “Our Programs – Florida School of Traditional Midwifery”. Accessed November 06, 2020. Link.

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4. Commonsense Childbirth School of Midwifery, Winter Garden, Florida

Commonsense Childbirth School Of Midwifery

The school offers the following programs:

  • Direct Entry Midwife program.
  • Four-months licensure program.

What is essential to know about the Commonsense Childbirth School of Midwifery?

  • The direct-entry program lasts for 3 years.
  • To graduate, the students need to see and assist at least 50 women in various departments.
  • The coursework is offered both online and on-campus.
  • The school assists with finding preceptors for training.
  • To be eligible for the program, the applicants have to present:

    • Doula certification
    • Lactation education certificate
    • Childbirth education certificate
    • College-level courses in Math, English, Anatomy, and Physiology.
    • Proof of completion of the HIV/AIDS course.
    • NRP and CPR certification.
How To Become A Midwife Without A Nursing Degree? 7 Reference: “Commonsense Childbirth School of Midwifery”. Accessed November 06, 2020. Link.

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What are Certified Midwives (CM) programs like?

Programs that award a CM degree usually accept applicants that already have a Bachelor’s and/or Masters’s degree.

  • As a rule, these programs are university-based. To be eligible for such a program, the applicants need to complete the required coursework and labor and childbirth-related preparatory courses (i.e., doulaship, lactation), as well as CPR.
  • As the applicants are supposed to have already studied Biology, Chemistry, and Math, the coursework in these programs is more focused on midwifery-related subjects.

Here are the two currently working midwifery programs:

1) Bastyr University, Kenmore, WA.

The university offers the following programs:

  • Masters of Science in Midwifery.
  • Master of Arts in Maternal-Child Health Systems.

What is essential to know about Bastyr University:

  • The programs are accredited both regionally and by MEAC.
  • The program offers online and on-campus courses.
  • The university offers assistance with preceptorships.
  • The applicant needs to hold a Bachelor’s degree, complete the required coursework, and possess certification in Doula course and Childbirth educator course.
How To Become A Midwife Without A Nursing Degree? 7 Reference: “Master of Science in Midwifery Degree | Bastyr University”. Accessed November 06, 2020. Link.

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2) SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, Brooklyn, NY

This school is a part of the SUNY school system and specializes in Health Sciences. It offers programs for certified nurse-midwives and for applicants outside of the nursing background. There are several programs offered:

  • Advanced Certificate in Midwifery.
  • Master of Science in Midwifery (5 and 7 semesters).
  • Master of Science in midwifery completion.
  • Dual degree: Advanced degree in Midwifery and a Masters of Science in Nursing.

What one should know about SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University:

  • It offers a mix of programs that differ in length and curriculum.
  • The programs are accredited by the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM).
  • The school offers distance learning courses.
  • The school follows regulations for licensing of midwives and nurse-midwives for the State of New York.
  • The faculty of the midwifery program has received multiple awards and has several publications.
How To Become A Midwife Without A Nursing Degree? 7 Reference: “School of Health Professions – Midwifery Program”. Accessed November 06, 2020. Link.

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How long does it take to become a direct-entry midwife?

Usually, a direct-entry program takes around 3 years or between 3 to 7 semesters, depending on the school.

  • It should also be noted that applicants to midwifery programs usually need to complete specific college courses, including Math, English, Anatomy, and Physiology, that may take one or two semesters.
  • Many schools also demand certifications in CPR, neonatal CPR and life support, and doula certifications that may take some time.

In short, by choosing Midwifery as a career path, expect to spend no less than three and a half years to complete all the necessary coursework and training, as well as to pass the licensing exam.

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Job opportunities for a midwifery program graduate and the average salary

Midwives can work in various settings. They can work in large clinical hospitals, maternity clinics, birth centers, educational centers for future mothers, and practice in their local community as traditional midwives. The expected average salary is around $78,859.

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At the present time, the need for professional, ethical midwives is constant. ^Some communities do not have access to midwives with nursing degrees for various reasons, and so-called lay midwives with quality education are sorely needed.

Direct entry midwives’ programs exist to fulfill this demand. However, they are rare and are very strictly regulated in the United States.

Both CNM and CPM career paths are complex and time-consuming. Still, in the end, midwives can be a tremendous help for women in their neighborhoods and communities.

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Key References

  • “Become A Midwife | Midwives Alliance of North America”. Accessed November 06, 2020. Link.
  • “Certification”. Accessed November 06, 2020. Link.
  • “MEAC Schools – Midwifery Education and Accreditation Council | School Directory”. Accessed November 06, 2020. Link.
  • “Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME) | ACME- Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education”. Accessed November 06, 2020. Link.
  • “State law chart: Certified Professional Midwife Scope of Practice”. Accessed November 06, 2020. Link.
  • “Direct-Entry Midwife Salary | Comparably”. Accessed November 06, 2020. Link.
  • “Commonsense Childbirth School of Midwifery”. Accessed November 06, 2020. Link.

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