American Midwives, Part 2

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Newborn and midwifeAs I wrote in my first post, the American Midwifery Certification Board is the gold standard for midwifery certification. AMCB requires the highest level of education and training standards for midwives in the USA. How do you know if your midwife is AMCB certified? Simple. You can go to AMCB’s website, type in your midwife’s name and voila! You can instantly see if your midwife is currently certified, the status of her certification and any disciplinary issues.

AMCB certifies two types of midwives:

1. Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)

Nurse midwifery has been around in the USA since the 1920s and the certification for nurse midwives began in 1971. Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) are some of the most highly skilled and educated midwives in the world. The Certified Nurse Midwife is one of the only types of midwives in the world that requires a nursing degree. The CNM also holds a master’s degree as the minimum level of educational requirement (some have doctoral degrees). CNMs must complete their education through an ACME-accredited midwifery program (ACME = Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education). Once completed, they can apply to take the AMCB certification exam.

Certified Nurse Midwives are licensed and have prescriptive authority in all 50 states (and other territories of the USA). The educational and clinical skills training of the CNM not only includes pregnancy and birth care but also primary care for women throughout life, reproduction, infertility, newborn care, and management of sexually transmitted diseases.  

Most midwives in the USA are CNMs. Most CNMs work in a hospital, while a small percentage work in birth centers and/or home birth settings.

2. Certified Midwife (CM)

The Certified Midwife (CM) credential has existed since 1994. The CM is the direct-entry version of the CNM. While CMs do not need to have a nursing degree, they must take all of the nursing school pre-requisites (such as anatomy, physiology, microbiology, etc) and must receive a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree. The CM’s educational and clinical skills training is similar to the CNMs, as it again not only includes pregnancy and birth care but also primary care for women throughout life, reproduction, infertility, newborn care, and management of sexually transmitted diseases. Again, just like CNMs, CMs must complete their education through an ACME-accredited midwifery program. Once completed, they can apply to take the AMCB certification exam.

Currently, Certified Midwives are only able to be licensed in a handful of States: New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Missouri. In New York, CMs have prescriptive authority.

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Depending on where a CNM or CM practices, she is held accountable by the Board of Nursing, Board of Medicine, Board of Midwifery or Nurse Midwifery, or the Department of Health.

The formal education required to become a CNM or CM (including the clinical portion of the training) provides a midwife all the tools needed to become an independent, federally-recognized primary care provider: understanding normal birth, dealing with birth complications, performing well-women check-ups, knowing the most current evidence based care, understanding how to evaluate evidence (an incredibly valuable component), and much, much more.

It is no wonder the AMCB-certified midwife is a highly respected and integral part of our health care system.

Next, we'll look at NARM certified midwives. 

Click to read more of this series:

American Midwives, Part 1

American Midwives, Part 2 (currently reading)

American Midwives, Part 3 

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