Quote from PNCC2001
You can be a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) if they are Licensed in your state; without being a nurse. Go to the NARM website for the requirements. To be a Birth Doula, there are different requirements based on the organization that you choose to train with; and each organization has somewhat different philosophies about the Scope of Practice of a Birth Doula. Some organizations have more of a natural focus than others. You need to decide what best meets your needs in choosing your educational path. If you decide to be a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) you do not need to start as a CNA, LPN, etc. You can apply directly to BSN programs and later to an MSN midwifery program.
I want to caution anyone considering the CPM route to remember that the legality of direct-entry midwifery varies state to state, and in almost all cases, none of your CPM coursework will transfer if you decide to go back for your RN/CNM.
I am a CPM, and I greatly value the home birth education I had. It has helped me maintain my balance while completing my CNM training in a large tertiary hospital. However, when I decided to go back to school for my RN, I had to start from scratch. Not a single credit transferred from my CPM school. It was also a rude awakening when I first started CNM school, to realize how much I DID NOT KNOW. Yikes.
When I worked as a CPM in Florida, I was licensed and I took medicaid and insurance. Up here in MA, direct entry midwifery is unregulated, which means that anyone can hang a shingle and decide they want to catch babies. It also means that your services aren't covered by insurance/medicaid, and you are therefore left serving only women who can afford to pay out of pocket for a home birth. While these women are certainly deserving of good midwifery care, it is important to me that I can reach women who don't have an extra couple thousand kicking around for a home birth.
It is a simple process to bridge from CNM to CPM. The reverse? Not so much, and it shouldn't be, with the current state of CPM education in this country.
eta- just want to make it clear that most CPMs are knowledgeable, expert midwives. But not all of them. The NARM credentialing process, along with the weird state-to-state variances in legality, makes it very difficult to ensure a minimum level of competence for the direct-entry midwifery profession.