Last Updated on December 28, 2022
One great occupation for women is that of a midwife. Midwives help to ensure the safety of a mother and baby during pregnancy, labour and childbirth. They are trained experts who do extremely important work. Want to be a midwife? You need to know what qualifications you need to have in order to start in this profession.
To be sure, getting the right information online doesn’t come easy. However, the article below brings you the best and latest information on What Qualifications Do You Need To Be A Midwife,certified nurse midwife salary,how many years to become a midwife.
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Certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) take on a vital role in the healthcare field: they bring new life into the world.
Along with working in a rewarding career, CNMs earn substantial salaries. In 2018, nurse midwives made a median income of about $103,770 at the national level, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This figure is over $30,000 more than the median pay for registered nurses (RNs).
This guide covers basic information about the CNM career and outlines how to become a certified nurse midwife.
What Is a Certified Nurse Midwife?
CNMs deliver babies and offer patients gynecological, prenatal, and post-pregnancy care. These professionals work as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), which allows them to prescribe medications and take on more medical responsibilities than an RN. The career also requires more challenging education and experience requirements. CNMs must earn advanced practice licensure at the state level, along with nurse midwife certification. These credentials require graduate-level schooling, so these nurses must earn either a master’s or doctoral degree.
What Do Certified Nurse Midwives Do?
CNMs provide women’s health services, including primary care, gynecological care, and care during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. CNMs can care for newborns during the first 28 days of life. They can also treat male partners for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
CNMs can serve as the main and only care provider during childbirth. They are trained to handle all of the most common complications that can arise during labor or immediately after birth. All midwives are also certified in neonatal resuscitation. In hospital settings, CNMs typically have collaborative relationships with physicians, who are available if more serious complications arise. Some CNMs have specialized training to assist physicians in emergencies that call for cesarean sections.
These responsibilities demand critical-thinking skills and the ability to stay calm under pressure. After all, CNMs make decisions that can affect both the infant’s and mother’s health. These professionals should possess strong communication and interpersonal skills. They often work on teams, and they also educate parents-to-be on the birthing experience and caring for newborns.
Where Do Certified Nurse Midwives Work?
CNMs can find work with many different types of employers. They often work in hospitals, clinics, and private practices.. They might also find jobs at health maintenance organizations. CNMs frequently work in teams. While the majority of CNMs deliver babies in hospitals, they can also provide birth services in free-standing birth centers and at people’s private homes.
When working in out-of-hospital birth settings, CNMs sometimes work in conjunction with certified professional midwives (CPMs). While CNMs find their work rewarding, they may also describe it as stressful. As most people know, babies can get born at all hours of night and day! Depending on where they work, sometimes CNMs have to be on call or working at unusual hours. CNMs must remain on-call at all times and work unusual hours.
Steps to Becoming a Certified Nurse Midwife
The road to becoming a CNM can certainly seem overwhelming. The list below explores the process, taking you through how to become a certified nurse midwife step by step.
- EARN A BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN NURSING (BSN) DEGREE
For the first step of certified nurse midwife schooling, students should enroll in a bachelor’s program in nursing. Traditionally, full-time students can finish their bachelor’s degrees in four years. However, students enrolled in accelerated programs may graduate more quickly, while those enrolled part time may take an extra semester or year. This program should hold accreditation from an agency like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. Graduate schools often look for candidates with degrees from regionally accredited institutions.
- OBTAIN LICENSURE AS A REGISTERED NURSE
To earn licensure, RNs need to pass the NCLEX-RN examination and earn an undergraduate degree. They also need to apply for RN licensure from their state. Every state sets different requirements, with some including an additional exam covering state nursing laws. Check with the licensing board in your state to learn more.
- PURSUE SPECIALIZATIONS WHILE WORKING AS AN RN
Nurses often work as RNs before pursuing certified nurse midwife degrees and further licensure. This experience allows them to hone their skills and knowledge, affording them a level of authority and expertise they need for advanced practice roles. During this time, nurses can pursue additional certifications to prepare them for their future roles as CNMs. For instance, RNs can earn their neonatal intensive care nursing certification through the National Certification Corporation. This credential, which bolsters nurses’ backgrounds in working with newborn infants, requires one year of professional experience and a passing grade on an exam.
- GAIN ADMISSION TO AN ACCREDITED MASTER OF SCIENCE IN NURSING (MSN) OR DOCTOR OF NURSING PRACTICE (DNP) PROGRAM WITH A SPECIALTY IN NURSE MIDWIFERY
Next, RNs should apply for either a master’s degree or DNP with a nurse midwifery concentration. Although you can pursue either degree to earn certification, a doctorate can lead to higher salaries and more job opportunities. Admission requirements vary by school. However, most programs expect each applicant to hold a bachelor’s degree with a satisfactory GPA and an RN license. Some programs specify that applicants must possess some background in midwifery or prenatal care, but many programs do not. You can find an online directory of accredited programs provided at the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM) website.
- EARN AN MSN OR DNP DEGREE
A master’s program may take about two years to complete, while students might need to dedicate 3-4 years to a DNP. While in graduate school, students take advanced nursing courses, such as fetal evaluation and antepartum care. They must also complete practicum hours, which allow them to apply what they’ve learned under supervision. When pursuing a graduate degree, make sure your courses and practicum hours fulfill nurse midwifery certification and licensure requirements.
- OBTAIN CERTIFICATION FROM THE AMERICAN MIDWIFERY CERTIFICATION BOARD
The American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) offers the CNM credential. To earn this credential, candidates need a graduate degree and an RN license. They must also pass the AMCB certification exam. The exam tests a candidate’s grasp of safe practice and knowledge of physiology, pharmacology, and clinical decision making. The test consists of multiple choice questions, and candidates take the exam on computers at testing sites.
- OBTAIN CERTIFIED NURSE MIDWIFE STATE LICENSURE
Just like with RN licensure, each state determines its own certified nurse midwife requirements concerning advanced practice licensure. Some states, for instance, require nurses who want to prescribe medication to turn in an extra application, while others allow any licensed CNM to possess automatic prescriptive authority. You can find out more information about each state on this page from the Midwives Alliance of North America.
- FIND EMPLOYMENT
In addition to searching online job boards, CNMs can take advantage of networking at previous workplaces or through professional associations. Attending conferences can also expand their network of professional connections.
What do I need to do to become a midwife?
You can get into midwifery through:
- a university degree
- an apprenticeship
- a specialist course run by a professional body
You can do a degree in midwifery, approved by the Nursing & Midwifery Council. Full-time courses take three years.
You’ll usually need:
- five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English, maths, and a science
- two or three A levels, including a science, or a level 3 diploma or access to higher education in health, science, or nursing
You can do a midwifery degree apprenticeship.
You’ll usually need:
- four or five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), and college qualifications like A levels for a degree apprenticeship
Previous paid or unpaid experience of working in a caring role would be useful. You could contact the voluntary services coordinator or manager at your local NHS trust for further advice about opportunities.
If you’re a registered adult nurse you may be able to qualify through a conversion course. These usually take between 18 and 24 months.
You’ll need to pass enhanced background checks.
You’ll need to register with the Nursing & Midwifery Council.
Becoming a Certified Nurse Midwife FAQs
- How Long Do You Have to Go to School to Be a Certified Nurse Midwife? This depends on your specific educational path. A bachelor’s degree traditionally takes four years, while students generally take two years to complete a master’s and up to four years for a doctorate. Therefore, some CNMs could spend a decade in school. However, many CNMs pursue only a master’s degree, and others enroll in BSN-to-DNP programs, which allow them to skip a master’s degree altogether. Therefore, some nurses might dedicate 6-7 years to school, or even less if they choose accelerated programs.
- Can I Get Licensed if My Degree Is From an Unaccredited Program? No. All states require nurses to possess accredited degrees before they can earn licensure. This includes all levels within the nursing profession. CNMs need accredited degrees to earn certification from the AMCB.
- Are Certified Nurse Midwives in Demand? Yes. On a national scale, the BLS projects the CNM profession, along with nurse anesthetists and nurse practitioners, to grow by 26% from 2018-28, which is much faster than the average growth rate for all employment.
- What Is the Difference Between a Certified Nurse Midwife and a Doula? A CNM is a licensed, independent healthcare provider. Unlike a CNM, a doula does not need nursing or medical education, so a doula cannot provide any medical care or deliver infants. Instead, doulas focus on helping parents prepare for labor and birth. They can offer support during birth, including things like teaching breathing techniques or giving massages. Sometimes doulas also provide postpartum or lactation support. While CNMs can provide labor support too, they primarily function as the healthcare provider “in charge” of all of the medical and safety decisions during labor and birth, including delivering (or “catching”) the baby. CNMs can also provide a broad range of medical care before, during, and after pregnancy.
- Can a Certified Nurse Midwife Prescribe Medication? Yes, CNMs can prescribe medication. Several states include prescriptive authority along with APRN licensure. In other states, CNMs may need to apply for an extra credential to earn prescriptive authority. Check with your state licensing board to learn which case applies to you.
Certified Nurse Midwife Credentials
The following section dives deeper into the licensing and certification requirements needed to become a certified nurse midwife. This guide offers as many details as possible without covering specific state requirements, so you should check with your state’s nursing licensing board for more information about state-specific obligations. With a little bit of research, you can find optional certificates that may boost your job prospects and earning potential.
Keep reading to learn how to earn your RN and APRN licensure, in addition to obtaining a CNM credential.
CERTIFIED NURSE MIDWIFE LICENSING
CNMs need two licenses at the state level: RN licensure and APRN licensure. Each state sets distinct requirements for these licenses, so the information below provides a general overview.
An RN license requires each candidate to hold an associate or bachelor’s degree. Nurses hoping to gain advanced licensure should choose a bachelor’s degree, which they will need to enter graduate school. States sometimes publish a list of accredited programs that include a comprehensive curriculum and the clinical hours that RN candidates need for licensure. Candidates also need to pass the NCLEX-RN examination. State licensure boards also usually require a background check and charge an application fee.
An aspiring CNM can apply for an APRN license after earning a graduate degree. They can either earn a master’s or a doctorate in nursing, and they should also hold RN licensure. These nurses usually need a certification in a specialized area before qualifying for APRN licensure. In this case, they need the CNM credential. Finally, check with your state licensing board to learn how many hours or years of experience you need for your APRN license.
CERTIFIED NURSE MIDWIFE CERTIFICATION
Offered by the AMCB, the CNM credential qualifies APRNs to work as midwives. Candidates need RN licensure and at least a master’s in nursing, although some opt for a doctoral degree instead. The graduate program should hold accreditation from the ACNM Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education.
Aspiring CNMs must also possess clinical expertise with skills related to women’s health, providing reproductive care, assisting with delivery, caring for newborns, and managing sexually transmitted diseases. Last, each candidate must pass a national certifying exam. This multiple choice, computer-based exam tests nurses’ knowledge of medical and nursing theory and clinical skills.
Certified Nurse Midwife Resources
American College of Nurse-Midwives
As one of the most prominent professional associations for CNMs in the U.S., ACNM supports experienced professionals and students alike. Members can attend events, participate in professional development opportunities, and meet their peers through volunteering.
Midwives Alliance North America
This professional organization connects midwives all over North America, not just the United States. It offers several resources, like home birth summit transfer guidelines and a waterbirth guidance template.
ACNM Career Center
ACNM runs an online career search engine with opportunities offered all around the country. Users can narrow their criteria by sector, discipline, location, and more.
American Midwifery Certification Board
This organization offers certifications for midwives, CNMs, and professional midwives. Individuals can visit this website to answer their questions about the certification and renewal process.
This organization offers plenty of ACNM-approved continuing education courses in an online format. Professionals can access courses covering topics like newborn weight loss and functional nutrition to prevent gestational diabetes.
Learn More About Certified Nurse Midwives and Related Careers
Advanced practice nursing covers many different areas beyond midwifery. The resources below outline how to earn other nursing specializations, such as pediatrics and women’s health. You can also find pages that offer more information about the midwifery career, including what salaries a CNM can expect.
CERTIFIED NURSE MIDWIFE
This page outlines what prospective CNMs can expect from academic programs, including curriculum and courses, prerequisites, and possible specializations. The page also offers more helpful advice on how to become a certified nurse midwife.
WOMEN’S HEALTH NURSE PRACTITIONER
This resource offers information for individuals hoping to become women’s health nurse practitioners. Visitors can learn about which degrees to pursue and how to identify the ideal online program.
CERTIFIED NURSE MIDWIFE VS. WOMEN’S HEALTH NP
If you feel unsure about the differences between a CNM and a women’s health nurse practitioner, you can find a thorough comparison of the two professions on this webpage.
HOW MUCH DOES A NURSE MIDWIFE MAKE?
This page offers salary data from the BLS to offer a general idea of what aspiring CNMs can expect to earn. It also breaks down earnings information by state and metropolitan areas.
WHAT IS A NURSE MIDWIFE?
This resource covers fundamental questions about the CNM profession. It explains the differences between an RN and a CNM, along with listing all required educational and experience requirements.
HOW TO BECOME A CLINICAL NURSE SPECIALIST (CNS)
Individuals interested in becoming clinical nurse specialists can learn how to get started with their careers by following this step-by-step guide. Visitors learn which degrees and what kind of work experience they need.
HOW DO I BECOME A NURSE EXECUTIVE?
Anyone interested in a leadership position might consider becoming a nurse executive. This page covers the different levels of management positions within the nursing industry and outlines the steps needed to achieve this professional level.
HOW DO I BECOME A PEDIATRIC NURSE PRACTITIONER?
ediatric nurse practitioners work in advanced nursing positions, but they care specifically for children. This resource outlines the educational and certification requirements needed to become a pediatric nurse practitioner.
HOW DO I BECOME A WOMEN’S HEALTH NURSE PRACTITIONER?
As the title suggests, these APRNs focus on women’s health, like gynecology. Individuals can visit this webpage to learn about undergraduate, graduate, and experience expectations for women’s health practitioners.
Online Nurse-Midwifery Programs
Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs) care for low-risk pregnant women during pregnancy, labor, and the post-partum period. In some settings, CNMs also provide primary and gynecological health care to women from adolescent to menopausal age, and offer services such as pap smears, sexual health education, preconception advising, and family health planning. CNMs often work with a team of other healthcare professionals that include physicians, other nurses, and medical assistants.
To become a certified nurse-midwife, candidates must complete a nurse-midwifery program that has been accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME), which is the accrediting body of the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM). After graduating from an ACME-accredited program, candidates must pass a national certification exam administered by the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB), and seek state licensure/certification as a nurse-midwife from their state’s board of nursing.
Featured Online Programs (RN License Required)
Overview of Online Nurse-Midwifery Degree Programs
Nurse-midwifery programs are available at multiple degree levels, including Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and post-graduate certificate. The length of a given nurse-midwifery program depends on the degree being sought, and students’ prior level of educational attainment. For example, BSN to MSN programs with a focus in nurse-midwifery typically require 50 to 80 credits, and take between 16 and 28 months to complete, while RN to MSN programs in nurse-midwifery generally require 100 to 130 credits, and take between 24 and 36 months to complete.
In addition to academic classes, all accredited online nurse-midwifery programs require students to fulfill a certain number of clinical hours, which involve working in a real medical setting with actual patients. Accredited online CNM programs also typically require students to make one or more visits to campus, during which they attend in person lectures, discussions, and/or networking events.Some online nurse-midwifery programs also train individuals to become women’s health nurse practitioners (WHNPs). For more information on these programs, refer to our online women’s health nurse practitioner programs page.
Types of Accredited Online Nurse-Midwifery Programs
Online nurse-midwifery programs are available for RNs who have obtained different levels of nursing education, from a bachelor’s of science in nursing to a diploma in nursing. Below is a description of different types of nurse-midwifery programs:
- Online BSN to MSN Programs in Nurse-Midwifery only accept RNs who have already earned their Bachelor of Science in Nursing from a CCNE or ACEN accredited nursing program. These programs typically require the completion of 50 to 60 credits to graduate, and take between 16 and 28 months to complete, depending on whether the program is full-time or part-time.
- Online Bachelor’s to MSN Programs in Nurse-Midwifery allow registered nurses who earned their bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing to earn their MSN only without having to take courses towards an additional baccalaureate degree (these types of programs also generally accept candidates with a BSN). For students who have their BSN, these programs are equivalent to conventional BSN to MSN programs. For non-BSN students, Bachelor’s to MSN programs in nurse-midwifery typically require the completion of 55 to 75 credits to graduate, and take between 22 and 30 months to complete, as these students need to complete certain bridge or prerequisite undergraduate courses prior to starting their graduate course of study.
- Online RN to MSN Programs in Nurse-Midwifery are generally for registered nurses who would like to earn their BSN and MSN with a concentration in nurse-midwifery together through one accelerated program. While some RN to MSN programs only accept applicants who hold an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) from an accredited institution, other programs admit candidates who hold either an ADN or a diploma in nursing. RN to MSN programs in nurse-midwifery generally require 100 to 130 credits to graduate, and take between 24 and 36 months to complete, depending on whether they are full-time or part-time.
- Online Post-MSN Certificate Programs in Nurse-Midwifery are suitable for individuals who have already earned their MSN in a field other than nurse-midwifery, and who wish to gain training and certification as a CNM. Post-MSN CNM certificate programs generally require 25 to 38 credits to graduate, and take 12 to 15 months to complete.
- Online BSN to DNP CNM Programs are designed for BSN-prepared registered nurses who want to pursue a DNP without first completing a separate MSN program. These programs offer RNs the most direct path to earning a DNP, and typically involve the completion of 65 to 95 credits. Full-time BSN to DNP CNM programs generally take three to four years to complete, while part-time programs may take up to six years. Students should note that while these programs contain both MSN and DNP-level coursework, not all programs confer both degrees. Some only culminate in a DNP.
- Online Post-Master’s to DNP CNM Programs are for master’s-educated nurses who want to pursue both a DNP and APRN certification in the specialty area of nurse-midwifery. These programs are essentially the combination of a post-MSN DNP program and a post-master’s CNM certificate program, and generally take one to two years to complete. There are several different types of MSN to DNP CNM programs available to students. MSN to DNP CNM new specialty programs are designed for those who possess a master’s degree in a non-APRN nursing field (such as nurse administration or nursing education), and want to earn APRN certification in conjunction with their DNP program. MSN to DNP CNM second specialty programs are for APRNs who want to earn a DNP along with a second APRN certification in nurse-midwifery.
Admissions Criteria for Accredited Nurse-Midwifery Programs
All accredited online nurse-midwifery programs require that candidates are registered nurses with an active license in their state of residence. The level of academic preparation that applicants must complete prior to applying depends on the type of program(s) they are considering; for example, BSN to MSN programs in nurse-midwifery typically require that applicants hold a BSN, while post-MSN programs mandate that candidates have an MSN or higher graduate degree.
Other admission requirements may include a minimum undergraduate GPA, the completion of certain college courses, and one or more years of professional nursing experience. For more information on the admission requirements for online nurse-midwifery programs, prospective students should contact admissions advisors at the programs that interest them.
Nurse-Midwifery Programs: Curriculum
The curricula of nurse-midwifery programs vary by the school and the degree sought. However, in general, CNM programs contain a combination of foundational courses in general advanced practice nursing and classes that are specific to nurse-midwifery. Some accredited online CNM programs divide their curricula into specific “cores” that students must complete. For example, a primary care core that is comprised of classes such as Advanced Health Assessment and Human Physiology and Pathophysiology, and a nurse-midwifery core that is composed of classes such as Reproductive Health of Women and Labor, Birth, and Newborn Care.
Depending on their specific program track, online DNP students specializing in nurse-midwifery will need to complete a combination of the foundational and concentration courses mentioned above, as well as courses designed to prepare them in the eight core competencies outlined in the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice. All DNP programs, regardless of their specialization, are required to cover these eight foundational areas, which include health care policy, organizational and systems leadership, interprofessional collaboration, patient care technology, and analytical methods for evidence-based practice.
Nurse-Midwifery Programs: Clinical Hours Requirements
Clinical hours requirements for nurse-midwifery programs typically range from 600 to 1000 hours, depending on the program. DNP students will need to complete at least 1000 post-BSN clinical hours in order to qualify for the doctorate, and many schools require more than that. Clinical hours, otherwise known as clinical practicums, are defined as the time that a nursing midwifery student spends in an actual medical setting, fulfilling real nurse-midwife responsibilities and working with women across the lifespan, as well as before, during and after pregnancy. Clinical hours must be completed under the supervision of a preceptor, who is a medical professional that oversees students’ work and provides guidance during their clinical internship.
Clinical hours for accredited online nurse-midwifery programs can include on-call hours, and are sometimes divided into several clinical rotations that focus on certain areas within nurse-midwifery, such as antepartum care, gynecological health care, and primary care of women and infants. Most nurse-midwifery programs integrate clinical hours into their curriculum, so that students fulfill their clinical hours alongside courses in which they discuss and learn information that is relevant to their clinical experiences.
Campus Visits for Online Nurse-Midwifery Programs
The majority of accredited online nurse-midwifery programs require students to make one or more prearranged campus visits, which are also known as on-campus intensives. These campus visits generally take most of a day to several days, and are often comprised of in-person discussions and lectures with program instructors, networking events with faculty and fellow classmates, group projects, and/or clinical simulation experiences in which students work through a simulated clinical scenario. On OnlineFNPPrograms.com, we categorize an online nurse-midwifery program as one that requires three or fewer visits to the campus annually.
Accredited Online Nurse-Midwifery Programs: Sample Courses
While specific course titles and content may vary across different programs, typical classes for accredited online nurse-midwifery programs include:
Core Courses for Online CNM Programs:
- Advanced Health Assessment: How to collect, interpret, and synthesize patients’ physical, genetic, social, cultural, and psychological information and history to develop accurate and useful health assessments and medical histories. How to integrate critical thinking and diagnostic skills into patient health evaluations.
- Human Physiology and Pathophysiology: The structure and function of the human body at the organ, tissue, and cellular levels. How a normal, healthy human body functions. Common diseases and conditions and how they originate, develop, and affect different systems within the body. How to use knowledge of various diseases and their development to create an overall health care plan for patients.
- Advanced Concepts of Pharmacology: The common classes of medicines and how they function in the body (i.e. what organ systems they affect, what conditions they treat and through what mechanisms). The principles of pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, dose-response relationships, and drug metabolism.
- Leadership in Advanced Practice Nursing: The theoretical and practical principles related to working as an APRN within a team of other medical professionals in a clinical setting.
Nurse-Midwifery Concentration Courses:
- Introduction to Reproductive Healthcare of Women: Women’s reproductive anatomy and physiology, and the different diseases and conditions that can affect the female reproductive system. How a woman’s sexual health relates to her genetic, physical, social, cultural, and psychological background, and how to take these and other elements into consideration when developing a reproductive health care plan for women. How to conduct gynecological examinations, monitor women’s reproductive health, and educate patients on relevant self-care. Sexually transmitted diseases and their prevention, contraceptive methods, preconception advising and care, and preparing women for childbirth and breastfeeding.
- Primary Care of Women: How to care for and monitor the general and reproductive health of women across the lifespan. How to educate patients about effective self-care and preventative care.
- Labor, Birth & Newborn Care: The essential principles and methods of caring for women during the intrapartum and immediate post-partum periods. The birthing process and how to care for women during this process in different settings, from the hospital to the patient’s home. How to care for newborns for the first month of their life.
What Is the Average Nurse Midwife Salary by State
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Top 50 Highest Paying States for Nurse Midwife Jobs in the U.S.
We’ve identified 11 states where the typical salary for a Nurse Midwife job is above the national average. Topping the list is Hawaii, with Massachusetts and Rhode Island close behind in second and third. Rhode Island beats the national average by 9.0%, and Hawaii furthers that trend with another $12,690 (12.9%) above the $98,455.
Significantly, Hawaii has a very active Nurse Midwife job market as there are several companies currently hiring for this type of role.
With these 11 states paying on average above the national average, the opportunities for economic advancement by changing locations as a Nurse Midwife appears to be exceedingly fruitful.