There are several routes to take to become a midwife.
Take a look at acnm.org for more info.
A nurse midwife (CNM) is a midwife who went through a nursing program (usually associate or BS level), then a midwifery program. These Midwifery programs can be at the masters level (I am currently attending a masters prepared nurse-midwifery course) or at a certification level in which no degree awarded. Most CNM's (80%) ARE masters prepared. CNMs are recognized in all 50 states.
While most CNM's tend to practice in hospitals, many do birthing center and home births of low risk women.
Full time most programs will take about 2 years.
Advantage of hospital work is to be able to bring the midwifery touch to people who either arn't eligible for birthing center or home births -OR, like in the state of Ill where there ARE no birthing centers!
These midwives, in consultation with OB physicians - (notice I DIDn'T say "under the SUPERVISION of...) can care for moderate to high risk patients in a Labor and Delivery environment.
A direct entry midwife (DEM) (also 18 mo to 2 year program) is also supported by the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) these midwives did not start out as nurses, but did take a nationally recognized midwifery course and are nationally certified by the certification section of ACNM. Some states do not recognize this level of midwifery and are illeagle in some states.
A third type of midwife is the MANA (sorry - cant remember the exact full name, no disrespect to the MANA midwives intended.)
These are the "lay" midwives (oops - sorry mana midwives - I know you don't like this name...) They usually compleate an apprintice style of midwifery program. While many fine and skilled midwives are tought this way, the programs generally have no core curriclum, standards or way evaluate and quantify they education provide, these programs are not accepted for national certification nor are they recognized to practice legally in many states.
Length of program varies.
Doula schools abound. Doula's are great labor support persons, they usually attend classes with their clients, and provide continuous support throughout labor - no matter WHERE the client labors - home or in a hospital.
length of programs vary
Hope this helps
Please excuse my spelling
- bad, I know
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