The rising number of Caesarean births, episiotomies, and other invasive and often-unnecessary medical interventions are just a few of the many reasons why more and more women are turning to nurse-midwives for care before, during and after pregnancy. Expectant mothers searching for a more holistic approach to pregnancy, labor, and delivery, are turning their attention to nurse-midwives, whose patient-focused philosophy is increasingly favored over traditional OB-GYN care.
Today’s nurse-midwives, although often thought of for their maternal care, are licensed independent healthcare providers for women, providing comprehensive gynecological care throughout a woman’s lifespan. Many nurse-midwives also provide care to newborns during the first 28 days of their lives.
According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives, as of 2015, there were 447 nurse-midwives and certified midwives working in Georgia. In 2013, they attended nearly 18,000 births in the state, representing 21 percent of all vaginal births in Georgia that year.
The Georgia Board of Nursing recognizes certified nurse-midwives as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) capable of independently managing women’s healthcare, focusing on pregnancy, childbirth, the postpartum period, care of the newborn, family planning, and the gynecological needs of women.
Steps to Becoming a Nurse-Midwife in Georgia
Registered nurses (RNs) in Georgia interested in becoming certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) must meet specific education, experience, and examination requirements to achieve an APRN license through the Georgia Board of Nursing:
|Earn a Qualifying Degree in Nurse Midwifery|
|Take and Pass the National Certification Examinations|
|Apply for APRN Authority through the Georgia Board of Nursing|
|Now That You’re a Nurse-Midwife in Georgia|
Step 1. Earn a Qualifying Degree in Nurse Midwifery
Before practicing as a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) in Georgia, RNs must qualify for the CNM designation and APRN licensure through the Georgia Board of Nursing, both of which require a master’s degree or other post-graduate degree.
RNs may attend online or campus-based schools that offer MSN programs with a focus on nurse-midwifery or a dual focus on nurse-midwifery/women’s health.
Master’s Degree Programs in Nurse-Midwifery and Nurse-Midwifery/Women’s Health
RNs seeking APRN authorization as a nurse-midwife in Georgia must complete an MSN program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME).
Currently, Georgia is home to just one midwifery education program, located in Atlanta. However, thanks to the many online programs available to RNs seeking graduate-level study to become APRNs, earning a master’s degree in nurse-midwifery has never been easier.
MSN degrees in nurse-midwifery and nurse-midwifery/women’s health provides RNs with advanced education in antepartum, intrapartum, postpartum, family planning, and other selected aspects of well-women’s healthcare. Graduates of these programs earn eligibility to take the certification examination offered through the American Midwifery Certification Board.
Graduates of nurse-midwifery/women’s health dual focus MSN programs earn eligibility to also take the Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) examination through the National Certification Corporation.
Master’s programs are designed in one of a number of different ways, each designed to cater to an RN’s current level of education. Admission requirements differ accordingly, for example:
- Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degrees are designed for RNs who possess bachelor’s degree
- RN-to-MSN programs are designed for RNs who currently hold an associate’s degree in nursing
- Post-graduate APRN certificates for current APRNs seeking to become CNMs
To qualify for an MSN program in nurse-midwifery, RNs typically possess:
- A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
- Current RN license
- Minimum undergraduate GPA
- Minimum GRE scores
- Letters of recommendation
- Admission essay or letter of intent
MSN programs are usually two years in duration, with part-time programs running about three years. These programs consist of two components: classroom study and clinical practice.
Nurse-midwifery programs are competency-based, with a focus on the nurse-midwifery management process in women’s health and primary care throughout the lifespan.
Program content includes core coursework in areas such as:
- Health assessment
MSN programs in nurse-midwifery encompass up to 1,000 hours of clinical experience, which provides students with the opportunity to receive practical experience in all aspects of the midwifery practice. Campus-based programs usually include nearby clinical practice sites. Online programs often partner with clinical sites throughout the country, which allow students to choose sites located in a reasonable proximity to their home.
Clinical sites in Georgia may include:
- Eastside Medical Center, Snellville
- Emory Johns Creek Hospital, Johns Creek
- Emory University Hospital Midtown, Atlanta
- Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Gainesville
- Southern Regional Medical Center, Riverdale
Step 2. Take and Pass the National Certification Examinations
RNs who have successfully graduated from an MSN program focused on nurse-midwifery are eligible to take the AMCB certification examination through the American Midwifery Certification Board.
RNs who have successfully graduated from an MSN program dually focused on nurse-midwifery/women’s health are eligible to take the AMCB certification examination, as well as the Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) examination through the National Certification Corporation.
Both the AMCB and the WHNP are computer-based tests consisting of 175 multiple-choice questions. Candidates must complete a valid examination application to earn approval as a candidate for certification. Candidates complete one or both examinations through an Applied Measurement Professionals (AMP) testing center of their choice. In Georgia, AMP testing centers are located in the following cities:
Step 3. Apply for APRN Authority through the Georgia Board of Nursing
Before RNs in Georgia can engage in advanced practice nursing as a nurse-midwife, they must apply for APRN authorization through the Georgia Board of Nursing. Applicants for APRN authorization must possess an active Georgia RN license and submit the following to the Board:
- Application for Authorization as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
- Application fee of $60
- Official college transcripts
- Verification of active, national certification in nurse-midwifery and/or women’s health
- Verification of a master’s degree or other graduate degree approved by the Board
- Verification of employment documenting at least 3 months/500 hours of APRN practice OR proof of graduation from an approved nursing program within four years of the date of the application
Licensed APRNs in Georgia seeking prescriptive authority receive approval through the Georgia Composite Medical Board. APRNs writing prescriptions in Georgia must submit a nurse protocol agreement to the Board. Both the APRN and the delegating physician must sign the agreement.
Step 4. Now That You’re a Nurse-Midwife in Georgia
CNMs in Georgia must ensure they maintain both their APRN authority and their professional certification(s).
APRN Authority Renewal Requirements (Georgia Board of Nursing)
The Georgia Board of Nursing has an online APRN licensure renewal process. All licenses expire on January 31 of even or odd years, simultaneously with RN licenses. Effective January 31, 2016, all RNs in Georgia must complete continuing education/competency requirements as a condition of license renewal.
Georgia law provides RNs with five options to choose from to satisfy the continuing competency requirements, detailed here.
CNM Renewal Requirements (American Midwifery Certification Board)
CNMs complete their continuing education requirements by following The American Midwifery Certification Board’s Certification Maintenance Program, which requires completing one of the following options:
- Option 1: Complete at least 3 AMCB Certificate Maintenance Modules during each five-year certification cycle and at least 20 contact hours of approved continuing education units; pay annual fees
- Option 2: Retake the AMCB Certification Examination and pay the $500 examination fee in lieu of annual fees
WHNP Renewal Requirements (National Certification Corporation)
The National Certification Corporation requires WHNPs to take a continuing competency assessment at the beginning of each three-year maintenance cycle and complete a specific number of continuing education credits hours based on their performance.
Resources for CNMs and WHNPs in Georgia
APRN authority as a nurse-midwife opens up a wide array of professional opportunities for RNs in Georgia. This may include achieving employment or earning career advancement at an independent clinic, expanding OB-GYN practice, or at one of the state’s large hospitals/medical centers:
- Georgia Center for Female Health, Norcross
- West Georgia Health: Women’s Health Center, LaGrange
- LaGrange Women’s Health Professional Group of West Georgia, LaGrange
- Women’s Healthcare Center of Georgia, Austell
- Center for Women’s Health at the Longstreet Clinic, Cornelia
- Women’s Health Group, Brunswick
- Academia of Women’s Health and Endoscopic Surgery, Atlanta
- Northeast Georgia Health System, Women & Children’s Pavilion
- Emory University Hospital Midtown, Atlanta
- Southern OB/GYN, Valdosta
- Atlanta Medical Center, Atlanta
Many CNMs may also choose to open their own practice. Professional associations in Georgia may serve as beneficial resources for starting or advancing a practice in nurse-midwifery:
- Georgia Midwifery Association
- American College of Nurse-Midwives, Georgia Affiliate
- Central Georgia Advanced Practice Registered Nurses
- APRN Council of Coastal Georgia
- United Advanced Practice Registered Nurses of Georgia
Salaries for Certified Nurse-Midwives in Georgia
Georgia’s certified nurse midwives earned an average salary of $91,920 as of 2014 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Top earning CNMs in the state with salaries that fell within the 90th percentile earned an average of $116,320 that year.
Certified nurse midwives are viewed as vital to helping mitigate the critical shortage of doctors in Georgia. The state ranked 39th in terms of the number of physicians per capita in 2015 according to a report titled Perspectives on Advanced Practice Registered Nursing in Georgia published by Georgia Watch. This shortfall of doctors is expected to grow even worse by 2020, leaving Georgia with the lowest number of total physicians in the country.
Georgia’s midwives are fully equipped to provide quality perinatal and general OB/GYN care, and often serve as primary healthcare providers for women. This is proving to be particularly critical in Georgia where 79 counties had no OB/GYN physicians as of January 2015.
CNMs in Georgia Enjoy Better Opportunities than Almost Anywhere Else in the Nation
Statewide, Georgia had the 5th highest number of nurse midwives of any state in the nation as of 2014, while the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta area had the 4th highest number of nurse midwives of any metropolitan area in the country. Even so, the number of certified nurse-midwives in Georgia is growing rapidly. Growth projections for the number of nurse midwives in Georgia indicate that their numbers will increase by 53.6% between 2012 and 2022 according to the state’s Department of Labor. This rate of growth is more than 70% faster than the national average job growth rate for CNMs and is the tenth-fastest growing occupation in Georgia.
Analyses of the number of nurse midwives in Georgia indicate their numbers are growing even more rapidly than predicted. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 260 nurse midwives practiced in Georgia in May 2014, while the Georgia Board of Nursing stated that 494 certified nurse-midwives were licensed in the state as of January 2015.
Nurse Midwife Salaries in Georgia Vary Dramatically by Location
A 2013 analysis of nurse midwife salaries in Georgia by county performed by the Georgia Department of Labor revealed a high degree of variation. For instance, the average salary for nurse midwives in Hall County was more than one third higher than the average salary for nurse midwives in Georgia that year:
- Hall County: $119,641
- Barrow County: $115,842
- Jackson County: $115,842
- Rockdale County: $106,859
- Barton County: $96,862
- Fulton County: $92,760
- Gwinnett County: $91,306
- DeKalb County: $89,568
- Gordon County: $88,944
- Walker County: $89,944
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a detailed analysis of nurse midwife salaries for the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta area as of 2014. This data revealed that the average salary of nurse midwives in this metropolitan area was higher than that for Georgia as a whole: