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 Nurse Midwife Certification Board (AMCB), and seek state licensure/certification as a nurse midwife from their state’s board of nursing.
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.
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.
On 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.