Midwifery courses are a must for women who want to become a registered or certified midwife.
Midwives help women through pregnancy, labour and childbirth. It is a calling that requires stamina, empathy, great communication skills, and quick decision-making. Midwives are increasingly the first choice for mothers in the developed world who prefer to limit medical interventions that modern medicine often insists on. At the same time, the World Health Organization has targeted the further education of nurses and midwives as essential to decreasing the rates of infant and maternal mortality in third world countries.
Midwives have practiced for centuries without formal training in educational institutions, but that is changing rapidly. Certification and licensing is usually a requirement to practice midwifery, and many countries have a continuing education requirement and midwifery courses to ensure that midwives are up-to-date on new methods and procedures in the field of childbirth. Aspiring and practicing midwives can take midwifery courses online, in class at colleges or universities, or through paper-based distance education programs.
Note: This article is targeted to North American midwives. Please refer to your country’s midwifery association for educational requirements.
Midwifery Courses: Education Requirement
As of March, 2011, the International Confederation of Midwives defines a midwife as “a person who, having been regularly admitted to a midwifery educational programme, duly recognised in the country in which it is located, has successfully completed the prescribed course of studies in midwifery and has acquired the requisite qualifications to be a registered and/or legally licensed to practise midwifery.” This means that if you want to be legally recognized when you become a midwife, you will have to take courses and apply for a license in the area where you wish to practice.
Education for Midwifery in Canada
To practice as a midwife in Canada, individuals must complete a four-year university degree in midwifery.
As of May, 2013, the midwifery degree is offered at Laurentian University, Ryerson University, McMaster University, University of British Columbia, Universitie du Quebec at Trois Rivieres. There is an Aboriginal Midwifery Program offered at University of the North in the Pas, Manitoba.
Prerequisites for the Bachelor of Health Sciences degree in Midwifery in Canada are similar to the requirements for a nursing degree. Students attend classes and work closely with practicing midwives. Once the degree is completed, an aspiring midwife must apply to the college of her province or territory for licensing and registration to practice.
Internationally trained midwives can attend a “Bridging Program” in order to apply for registration to practice midwifery in Canada. They can also apply to their provincial College of Midwives for a Prior Learning and Experience Assessment to be registered to open a midwifery practice.
Continuing Education for Midwives in Canada
In Canada midwives complete continuing education courses in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, Obstetrical Emergency Skills, and Neonatal Resuscitation to keep these certifications current. In addition, there are specialized workshops and professional development courses available through the provincial Colleges of Midwives.
Education for Midwifery in the United States
In the U.S., there are two recognized designations of midwife.
Direct-entry midwives enroll in midwifery courses without a prior professional health care designation, and can be awarded the Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) designation.
Certified Nurse Midwives are already Registered Nurses prior to attending midwifery courses and can be awarded the CNM designation.
Many direct-entry programs are offered through local colleges as part-time programs or full-time programs with work placements with practicing midwives. Some students, especially in rural areas, are able to complete midwifery courses online through distance education and meet the practical requirements of their education by working with a local midwife. Education, designation and licensing appears to vary from state to state.
Continuing Education for Midwives in the United States
As of 2010, midwives practicing in the United States must be re-certified every five years. This ensures that as specialized health care professionals midwives remain competent, safe, and up-to-date providers of care to women. Midwives are just one of many advanced health care fields which are moving away from the “lifetime competency” model, where a practitioner receives an initial license or certification and may practice for the rest of their lives without proving competency. Nurses and physical assistants are also moving to this model. As midwifery regulation may differ from state to state within the U.S., please check with your state authority to confirm your continuing education requirements.
Licensing, Certification, Registration
The American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) is the governing body in the United States providing the certification, re-certification and disciplinary actions to Certified Midwives (CMs) and Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs). The board works closely with the American College of Nurse-Midwives in maintaining and promoting the profession of midwifery.
The AMCB made changes in 2010 effecting the requirements to maintain certification as a CM or CNM.
Midwifery Courses: Useful Links
- Midwifery Distance Ed Links
- Continuing Education Courses
- Foundation for the Advancement of Midwifery
- Canadian Association of Midwives – Midwifery Education
- Aspiring Midwifery Students – Midwives Education Accreditation Council
- International Confederation of Midwives
- The Association of Midwifery Educators
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