Although established in the U.S. in the 1920s, the science and art of nurse-midwifery didn’t really begin to take shape as a widely respected practice until the last decade or so. With medical interventions like Caesarean sections at an all-time high, today’s nurse-midwives have earned a solid reputation for providing personalized care with a minimum level of invasiveness.
As a result, expectant mothers are increasingly seeking out the care of nurse-midwives, who believe that childbirth is a natural occurrence instead of a medical event; a philosophy that may result in fewer medical interventions like C-sections and episiotomies, while ensuring better outcomes for both mother and child.
Although the central focus of nurse-midwives in Illinois and across the U.S. has long been maternity care, these advanced practice nurses also provide comprehensive gynecological care for women throughout the lifespan. Women seek the expertise of certified and licensed nurse-midwives for well woman care, menopausal care, care of the newborn during the first 28 days of life, and family planning, among others.
According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives, there were 444 certified nurse-midwives licensed to practice in Illinois in 2015. Illinois’s certified nurse-midwives attended nearly 9,800 births in 2013, representing nearly 9 percent of all vaginal births in the state that year.
The Illinois Center for Nursing recognizes a broad scope of practice for nurse-midwives, which includes:
- Advanced nursing patient assessment and diagnosis
- Ordering diagnostic and therapeutic tests and procedures
- Performing diagnostic tests and procedures
- Interpreting and using the results of diagnostic and therapeutic tests and procedures
- Providing palliative and end-of-life care
- Providing advanced counseling, patient education, health education, and patient advocacy
The practice of nurse-midwifery is poised for substantial growth in Illinois, presenting certified and licensed nurse-midwives with a growing number of professional opportunities, whether in a hospital, birthing center, or in private practice.
Steps to Becoming a Nurse-Midwife in Illinois
RNs in Illinois interested in achieving the Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) credential through the American Midwifery Certification Board so as to qualify for Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) licensure through the Illinois Center for Nursing, must successfully complete a number of steps:
|Earn a Qualifying Degree in Nurse Midwifery|
|Take and Pass the National Certification Examinations|
|Apply for APN Licensure through the Illinois Center for Nursing|
|Maintain National Certification and State Licensure|
Step 1. Earn a Qualifying Degree in Nurse Midwifery
To be recognized as a nurse-midwife through the Illinois Center for Nursing, currently practicing RNs must complete a graduate degree program in nurse-midwifery accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME).
Master’s Degrees in Nurse-Midwifery: Options for Aspiring Students
For bachelor’s prepared RNs, this means completing a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a focus on nurse-midwifery or a Master of Science (MS) in Nurse-Midwifery. For non-traditional students (those with an ADN or existing MSN), ACME-accredited programs also include:
- RN-to-MSN programs: Combined, accelerated programs designed for RNs who possess an associate’s degree in nursing; includes both bachelor and master’s degree components
- Post-Graduate Certificates: Designed for currently licensed APNs in Illinois who want to add a nurse-midwifery specialization to their APN license or for master’s prepared RNs seeking initial APN licensure as a nurse-midwife
Many of today’s master’s degrees in nurse-midwifery appeal to students with different needs and goals. For example, institutions often offer these graduate degrees as full-time or part-time programs, with a full-time program taking about two years to complete and a part-time program taking about three years.
Further, programs offered either fully or partially online are commonplace, since working professionals require a more flexible learning atmosphere. Online programs also benefit those students who do not reside near an institution with a nurse-midwifery program. For example, Illinois is home to just one master’s degree program in nurse-midwifery, which is located in Chicago. Thanks to online programs, students may complete the didactic component of the program entirely online, regardless of their geographic location.
Many institutions have now begun offering dual-specialty programs for those seeking to become nurse-midwives. A popular option is the MS or MSN in Nurse-Midwifery/Women’s Health, which allows graduates to earn dual recognition under their Illinois APN license as a nurse midwife and women’s health practitioner, thereby expanding their professional and practice options.
Schools offering master’s degrees in nurse-midwifery or nurse-midwifery/women’s health generally require students to possess the following:
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited college or university
- A valid and unencumbered RN license
- Minimum undergraduate GPA
- Minimum GRE scores
- Letters of recommendation
Many programs also require students to complete an admissions essay or interview.
Master’s Degrees in Nurse-Midwifery: Program Components
Master’s degrees in nurse-midwifery or nurse-midwifery/women’s health consist of two components: a didactic component and a clinical component. Students are often required to complete classroom work and clinical experiences simultaneously.
The didactic component of a master’s degree in nurse-midwifery combines both broad foundational knowledge and specialty knowledge in primary care, women’s health, midwifery, and newborn care, as is reflected through its core curriculum:
- Advanced physiology and pathophysiology
- Advanced reproductive dynamics
- Healthcare policy
- Pharmacology for advanced nursing practice
- Conceptual frameworks for nurse-midwifery
- Advanced health assessment
- Primary care of episodic illnesses in women
- Well woman care for nurse-midwifery
- Antepartum care for nurse-midwifery
- Intrapartum, post-partum, and newborn care for nurse-midwifery
The clinical component allows students of master’s degrees in nurse-midwifery to gain valuable practical experience through specialty practicums in various settings. Students of campus-based programs generally complete practicums in clinical settings within close proximity of campus. Students completing online master’s degrees in nurse-midwifery may also complete their clinical experiences at facilities close to home, as many institutions enjoy clinical partnerships throughout the U.S.
Just a few of the clinical sites where Illinois’s graduate nursing students may complete the clinical component of their nurse-midwifery master’s degree include:
- Prentice Women’s Hospital-Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago
- Advocate Christ Medical Center, Oak Lawn
- Sparta Community Hospital, Sparta
- University of Illinois Medical Center – Obstetrics and Gynecology, Chicago
- Mary’s Good Samaritan, Benton
Step 2. Take and Pass the National Certification Examinations
Once students have successfully graduated from an ACME-accredited master’s degree program in nurse-midwifery, they are eligible to take the appropriate national certification examination(s).
To become a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) and qualify for APN licensure in Illinois, RNs must take and pass the American Midwifery Certification Board exam to become a certified nurse-midwife (CNM).
Graduates of master’s degree with a dual focus in nurse-midwifery/women’s health have the option of becoming dual-certified as a CNM and Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner (WHNP). Those seeking certification as WHNPs must take and pass the Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) examination offered through the National Certification Corporation.
To achieve the CNM and the WHNP designations, candidates must complete the appropriate applications and receive approval before scheduling to take the exams at one of Applied Measurement Professionals (AMP) testing centers located throughout the U.S. In Illinois, candidates may schedule these exams at AMP testing centers located in:
- Franklin Park
- Glen Ellyn
Step 3. Apply for APN Licensure through the Illinois Center for Nursing
Candidates seeking initial APN licensure in Illinois as nurse-midwives or nurse-midwives/women’s health nurse practitioners must complete and sign an Application for Advanced Practice Nurse Licensure and send it to the Illinois Center for Nursing, along with the following:
- Supporting Document CCA (criminal background check)
- Copy of CNM certification
- Official transcripts sent directly from the institution showing proof of the successful completion of a graduate degree
- Application fee of $125
Note: Candidates seeking a WHNP designation on their APN license must send a separate application and fee of $125.
Written Collaborative Agreements
Illinois requires a collaborative agreement as a condition for practice for nurse-midwives, an agreement outlining the working relationship between the APN and a collaborating physician. The document must detail the categories of care, treatment, and procedures performed by the APN. The collaborative agreement must be signed by the APN and the collaborating physician and be available to the Center for Nursing upon request.
The collaborating physician may grant a nurse-midwife prescriptive authority, which includes prescribing and dispensing legend drugs and controlled substances (categorized as Schedule II, III, IV, or V controlled substances). Nurse-midwives granted controlled substances prescriptive authority must obtain a mid-level practitioner controlled substances license.
The Application for Advanced Practice Nurse Mid-Level Practitioner, Illinois Controlled Substances is included with the application packet. The cost of applying for prescriptive authority is $5.
Step 4. Maintain National Certification and State Licensure
Nurse-midwives in Illinois must ensure they maintain both their APN license through the Illinois Center for Nursing and their professional designations through the respective national certification agencies.
APN License Renewal through the Illinois Center for Nursing
All APN licenses in Illinois expire on May 31 of even-numbered years at the same time as RN licenses. APN license renewal is conditional upon completion of at least 50 hours of continuing education. APNs in Illinois can learn more about approved continuing education here.
APNs must complete the renewal process online through the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
American Midwifery Certification Board Renewal Requirements – CNM
The American Midwifery Certification Board’s Certification Maintenance Program allows CNMs to satisfy their continuing education requirements by completing one of the following:
- 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
National Certification Corporation Renewal Requirements – WHNP
The National Certification Corporate 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 the results of the assessment.
Resources for Illinois Nurse-Midwives
New nurse-midwives in Illinois may enjoy a wide array of professional opportunities through some of the state’s women’s hospitals, practices, and clinics, such as:
- American Women’s Medical Center, Des Plaines
- Illinois Women’s Health Center, Peoria
- Alton Women’s Health Center, Alton
- Hope Clinic for Women, Ltd., Granite City
- Women’s Health Institute of Illinois, Oak Lawn
- Shawnee Women’s Health, Carbondale
Recent job posts (sourced in November 2015), although provided here for illustrative purposes only, highlight just some of the professional opportunities available to nurse-midwives in Illinois:
- Nurse-Midwife, Gateway Regional Medical Center, Granite City
- Nurse-Midwife, University of Chicago, Obstetrics and Gynecology
- Certified Nurse-Midwife, MacNeal Physician Group, Berwyn
- Certified Nurse Midwife, St. Anthony Hospital’s Maternity Center, Chicago
- Certified Nurse Midwife, Evanston Hospital, Labor and Delivery
Nurse-midwives in Illinois seeking to get their own midwifery practice up and running often find that local professional associations serve as valuable resources:
- Coalition for Illinois Midwifery
- Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nursing
- Illinois Small Business Association
Salaries for Certified Nurse-Midwives in Illinois
The median salary among nurse midwives in Illinois was $89,736 as of 2014 according to the state’s Department of Employment Security. Experienced nurse midwifes earned an average of $100,496, while nurse midwives just entering the profession earned an average of $64,680 that year.
The number of jobs for nurse midwives in Illinois is expected to increase by 17.09% between 2012 and 2022—a rate that is twice as fast as the overall average projected job growth rate in the state for the same period. More than 87% of these predicted job openings are expected to be in Cook and Du Page Counties.
Emerging Trends in Nurse-Midwifery Seen in Illinois
Nurse midwives will continue to be critical to meeting the perinatal and gynecological care needs of women in Illinois given the looming shortage of physicians statewide.
The 2010 Illinois New Physician Workforce Study commissioned by the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in partnership with the Illinois State Medical Society and the Illinois Hospital Association documented the looming shortage of physicians in Illinois. This study found that almost 50% of graduating Illinois fellows and residents will leave the state to practice medicine elsewhere. This exodus leaves a void that can be filled by advanced practice RNs such as nurse midwives.
Certified nurse-midwives in Illinois attended 10,746 births in 2007 alone, according to a 2013 report titled Eliminating Scope of Practice Barriers for Illinois Advanced Practice Nurses published by the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group. This figure represents about 5.9% of all the births in Illinois that year.
In 2014, there were 406 certified nurse-midwives licensed to practice in Illinois according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). The vast majority of the state’s nurse-midwives worked in hospital obstetrics units, women’s clinics and birthing centers, with only nine CNMs actually attending homebirths in Illinois in 2011 according to an article in the Chicago Tribune.
Nurse Midwife Salaries in Cook County and Chicago
The median salary among nurse midwives in Cook County was $90,837 as of 2014 according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.
Shown below is a detailed analysis of the salaries of nurse midwives in Chicago-Joliet-Naperville as of 2014 (US Bureau of Labor Statistics):