Are you a registered nurse who wants to specialize in women’s health, particularly in antepartum, intrapartum, and postpartum health?
Are you considering becoming a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)?
Well, you’ve come to the right place!
Here, we will give you everything you need to know about how to become a nurse midwife (CNM) in California…
And we’ll give it to you in just 4 steps!
We’ll also answer some FAQs, such as :
- How much does a nurse midwife earn in California?
- What are the top-paying cities in California for nurse midwives?
- Where do most nurse midwives tend to work?
- Can I become a nurse midwife without becoming an RN?
The process to become a CNM may be quite long and challenging, but it is very rewarding.
Helping a lot of women improve their health can certainly feel very fulfilling. And apart from that, you will also be well-paid as a nurse midwife!
So, let’s discuss how you can achieve your goal using our simple guide.
Can You Become a Midwife Without Becoming a Nurse?
Before we proceed, it would be good for you to keep in mind that a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) is NOT the same as a Certified Midwife (CM).
From the titles alone, you can already see that a Certified Midwife is not necessarily a registered nurse (RN). They are healthcare professionals who graduate from a midwifery program.
CNMs, on the other hand, are registered nurses who later specialize in midwifery through a master’s or doctoral degree, or national certification.
So yes, you can become a midwife without becoming an RN first.
However, your skillset, opportunities, and responsibilities will be significantly less as a CM than as a CNM.
How to Become a Nurse Midwife (CNM) in California: 4 Simple Steps
The process to become a nurse midwife may seem overwhelming, but the process itself is pretty straightforward.
Here are the 4 steps to becoming a CNM:
- Become a Registered Nurse (RN) and Gain Experience
- Take a Master’s or Doctoral Degree in Nurse Midwifery
- Apply for Your CNM License from the California Board of Registered Nursing
- Keep Your CNM License Active
Step #1: Become a Registered Nurse (RN) and Gain Experience
As we mentioned above, a CNM is a registered nurse who later specializes in nurse-midwifery.
Being an RN is, therefore, the first step to becoming a CNM.
You can find a full-length article on how to become an RN in California here, but let’s discuss a few important points.
Enroll in an Approved RN Program
An RN has a specific and specialized skill set, so it makes sense that every aspiring RN should get the proper training first.
This means that you have to enroll in an approved RN program, either an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).
Either an ADN or a BSN can qualify you to become an RN, but we suggest that you take a BSN if you’re interested to specialize as a midwife or as any other advanced practice nurse.
This is because an ADN takes only 2 years to complete, while a BSN takes 4 years. This means that the BSN program is much more comprehensive and in-depth compared to an ADN, and will prepare you for higher nursing practice.
Most master’s programs require a BSN for you to enroll.
Some schools may also provide RN to MSN bridge programs designed for ADN nurses who still need to complete missing prerequisites.
Get Your California RN License
After you graduate, the next step is to apply for your RN license from the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN).
If you are a new graduate, then you need to apply for a license through the examination process.
To do this, you need to take and pass the NCLEX-RN exam, as well as pass your nursing school records, take a criminal background check, and pay an application fee.
If you are already an RN in another state, then you can apply for a California RN license through endorsement.
You don’t need to take the NCLEX again, but you need to show proof of an active RN license from your state of origin, pass a criminal background check, and pay an application fee.
Once you have your RN license, you can find your first RN job!
The good news is that RNs are in great demand in California, and they are one of the best-paid RNs in the country.
This is a great time for you to gain experience and understand the ins and outs of what an RN does.
It’s also the best time for you to see what field you are most interested to specialize in.
Most master’s or doctoral schools also require or prefer that you have at least a few years of experience in the nursing field, as this will make you more equipped to engage in specialized training.
If you find out that you have a heart and a passion to help women, especially in antepartum, intrapartum, and postpartum health, then proceeding to become a nurse-midwife is the perfect path for you!
Step #2: Take a Master’s or Doctoral Degree in Nurse Midwifery
Now that you are an RN and have some work experience, it’s time to search for the best program for you to be properly trained as a nurse midwife.
Taking a master’s degree is the most common path to be trained as a nurse midwife. This takes about 18–24 months of full-time study to complete.
You can also opt to take a doctorate, which requires about 2–3 years of full-time education.
If you study part-time, it will take longer for you to complete these programs.
You need to choose a program or school that meets the California Board’s educational standards (outlined in the California Code of Regulations Section 1462).
There are 3 schools located in Fullerton, San Diego, and San Francisco that have met the BRN standards and have been approved by the Board.
Other schools meet the standards but have not officially been approved by the BRN.
Coursework and Clinical Experience
The coursework for the nurse midwife program will include many topics which can be classified as:
- general subjects,
- management of normal pregnancy,
- management of normal labor and delivery,
- management of normal postpartum period,
- management of routine gynecological care and family planning, and
- management of normal newborn care.
You will also be required to undergo supervised clinical training and experience.
Step #3: Apply for Your CNM License from the California Board of Registered Nursing
Once you complete your master’s or doctorate, it’s time to apply for your Certified Nurse Midwife license from the California BRN.
General Application Requirements
All who apply for a CNM license will have to submit:
- A completed Online Application for Nurse-Midwife Certification
- Nurse-Midwife certification fee of $500.00
- Required documentation to determine certification eligibility.
- This will depend on which method you choose by which to qualify.
Three Methods to Qualify
These are the three methods you can choose from to qualify for a license.
This is for those who complete a nurse-midwifery academic program that conforms with the Board’s educational standards (outlined in the California Code of Regulations Section 1462).
This is for those who complete a nurse-midwifery program that conforms with the Board’s educational standards (outlined in the California Code of Regulations Section 1462) but is not Board-approved.
For this method, you will need to verify that the academic program you took conforms to the standards of the BRN.
If it doesn’t exactly match, then you may be required to remediate deficiencies through an approved program/course.
This is for those who apply for certification by a national organization/association whose standards are equivalent to those outlined in the California Code of Regulations Section 1462.
The national organization that has met the California standards is the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB).
Nurse Midwife with Furnishing Number
You may also seek the additional advantage of being able to furnish or order medications or devices related to your field.
To do so, you must complete a Board-approved pharmacology course and finish a minimum of 520 hours of physician-supervised experience furnishing drugs or devices.
Forms and Fees
The application fee to be a nurse midwife is $500, while the application fee for a furnishing number is $400.
Step #4: Keep Your CNM License Active
Now that you have your CNM license… congratulations!
You can now fully enjoy the work and rewards of a nurse midwife.
But remember that the journey doesn’t end here. You will still be expected to maintain your credentials and fulfill the requirements necessary to renew your licenses.
Your CNM license has to be renewed every two years, together with your RN license.
To renew your RN license, you need to pay a fee of $190 and show proof of at least 30 hours of continuing education.
To renew your CNM license, you need to pay a fee of $150, plus an additional $172 for your furnishing number renewal.
If you were certified by a national organization/association, then you may need to pass additional requirements to your organization. You may check the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) for more details.
Although the costs for renewal are pretty high, remember that you can earn well as a nurse midwife.
Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming a Nurse Midwife in California
Alright! We’ve covered all the steps to becoming a nurse midwife!
This time, let’s answer some FAQs about nurse midwives!
How much does a nurse midwife earn in California?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, California is the third-highest paying state for nurse midwives, with an annual mean wage of $137,070.
What are the top-paying cities in California for nurse midwives?
The three top-paying cities for nurse midwives in California are San Francisco, Oakland, and Hayward, with an annual mean wage of $162,800.
Where do most nurse midwives tend to work?
The occupations with the highest level of employment for nurse midwives are offices of physicians, general medical and surgical hospitals, and outpatient care centers.
You can find this table on the website of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Can I become a nurse midwife without becoming an RN?
No. You have to be a registered nurse to become a nurse midwife.
However, you can become a certified midwife (CM) without becoming an RN.
And there you have it! Our simple guide on how to become a nurse midwife in California.
Keep in mind the four basic steps – become an RN and gain experience; take a master’s or doctoral degree in nurse-midwifery, apply for Your CNM license from the California Board of Registered Nursing, and keep your CNM license active.
We hope that this guide will help you achieve your goals and ambitions and that you will be able to serve women more effectively through this process.
We wish you all the best!