Online Midwifery Schools Offering CNM Masters Degrees in South Carolina

Nurse midwives were already making headlines in South Carolina by 1951. It was then that Life magazine featured nurse midwife Maude Callen in a photo essay, detailing her work as a primary care provider for women before, during and after labor; and often over the course of their lifetimes. Life’s feature story helped bring attention to this dedicated specialist, and eventually a women’s clinic was opened in Callen’s name.

Since then more clinics have opened throughout the state as nurse midwifery has grown in popularity. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor projects that the number of nurse-midwives in the state will increase by 33% during the 10-year period leading up to 2028 – significantly faster the national average growth rate for the nurse-midwifery profession.

With a growing preference for the more individualized, whole-person care that nurse midwives offer, less than 7% of births in South Carolina were attended by midwives in 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics. The proportions are continuing to shift towards CNM-attended births.

In 2019, South Carolina’s certified nurse-midwives, who are licensed as advanced practice registered nurses (APRN), earned an average annual salary of $99,590, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Steps to Becoming a Certified Nurse-Midwife in South Carolina

The South Carolina Board of Nursing is responsible for issuing advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) licensure to qualified nurse-midwives.

In South Carolina, RNs with unencumbered licenses in good standing can complete these steps to become a certified nurse-midwife:

Complete a Qualifying Graduate Program in Nurse-Midwifery
Pass the National Nurse-Midwife Certification Examination
Apply for an APRN License with the South Carolina Board of Nursing
Explore New Career Opportunities and Keep Credentials Current

 


 

Step 1. Complete a Qualifying Graduate Program in Nurse-Midwifery

The South Carolina Board of Nursing requires its certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) to earn a master’s or higher degree in nurse-midwifery through a program that has been approved by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME).

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South Carolina residents have access to a number of ACME-accredited graduate programs in nurse midwifery throughout the country. Those who prefer not to relocate to other states can complete these programs online and maintain their work schedule while earning their degree.

Accredited graduate programs in nurse midwifery are increasingly offering students the option to pursue dual-specialization in women’s health. Graduating from an approved Nurse Midwife/Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (NM/WHNP) program will fulfill the education requirements for candidates interested in earning dual certification and APRN licensure with recognition in both specialty areas.

Graduate Program Admission Requirements

Prospective graduate students will find admission standards for nurse-midwife graduate programs typically include:

  • GRE General Test
  • Personal essay, video essay, or statement of purpose
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Current RN license
  • BSN or completion of nursing prerequisite courses
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Related work experience

While most applicants for nurse-midwife graduate programs hold a BSN, ACME also accredits RN-to-MSN bridge programs in midwifery for those who are enrolling with an associate’s degree in nursing.

Structure of a Graduate Program in Nurse Midwifery

Master’s programs in nurse-midwifery consist of two components:

  • Didactic education – between 40-60 semester credits
  • Clinical education – around 1,000 hours

Didactic Education

Throughout didactic studies in nurse-midwifery, students will explore and master critical topics in the field:

  • Complicated pregnancies and deliveries
  • Integrated midwifery
  • Nurse midwifery for the antepartum, intrapartum, and postpartum woman
  • Advanced health assessments
  • Legal issues and ethics in women’s health
  • Pathophysiology and physiology
  • Women’s reproductive health
  • Midwifery in a multi-cultural environment
  • Research methods for APRNs
  • Pharmacotherapeutics – at least 45 hours required for prescriptive authority

Clinical Education

Taking place within a hospital, university module lab, or other healthcare setting, students implement what they have learned in their didactic studies during their supervised clinical education. From an early stage, students completing their graduate degree online work with faculty advisors to identify locations throughout South Carolina where they can complete their clinical education. Colleges and universities are constantly striving to increase their clinical partnerships across the nation to maximize convenience and eliminate the need for students to relocate.

Examples of potential clinical locations in South Carolina can include:

  • Lexington Medical Center in West Columbia
  • Palmetto Health Baptist in Columbia
  • Palmetto Health Baptist Parkridge in Columbia
  • Palmetto Health Richland in Columbia
  • Roper Saint Francis in Charleston
  • Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston
  • East Cooper Medical Center in Mount Pleasant
  • Piedmont Medical Center in Rock Hill

Upon obtaining a master’s degree in nurse-midwifery or women’s health/nurse-midwifery, graduates can apply to take the national exams required to become certified nurse midwives or dually certified as nurse midwives/women’s health nurse practitioners.

 


 

Step 2. Pass the National Nurse-Midwife Certification Examination

The South Carolina Board of Nursing requires all CNMs to become nationally certified through the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB).

Graduates of dual-focus nurse midwife/women’s health nurse practitioner programs may opt to become nationally certified through the National Certification Corporation (NCC) to earn the Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified (WHNP-BC) credential. Choosing to do this will also qualify nurse-midwives to apply for an additional women’s health nurse practitioner license with the South Carolina Board of Nursing.

To become certified by one or both of these organizations, candidates must pass the appropriate exam after registering with the respective certifying body. Both exams are multiple-choice and computer-based. The AMCB and NCC require exam applicants to hold a current RN license.

After registering with the sponsoring organizations, candidates can sign up for a date, time, and location to take their exams with Applied Measurement Professional (APM). This company proctors both exams at H&R Block Centers in the cities of:

  • Charleston
  • Columbia
  • Spartanburg

Certified Nurse Midwife Exam

Prospective nurse midwives can start preparing for this exam by reviewing the AMCB’s Candidate Handbook. The test itself comprises 175 questions that must be completed within four hours. The topics evaluated are:

  • Antepartum – 19-26 percent
  • Intrapartum – 17-26 percent
  • Postpartum – 15-18 percent
  • Gynecology – 15-18 percent
  • Women’s health and primary care – 8-16 percent
  • Newborn – 7-16 percent

Candidates can apply for the National Certification Examination in Nurse-Midwifery by sending an application to:

AMCB
849 International Drive, Suite 120
Linthicum, MD 21090

Successful examinees will receive a Certificate in Nurse Midwifery (CNM) from the AMCB.

Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) Exam

Candidates who opt to take this exam can prepare by studying the NCC’s WHNP Candidate Guide. The exam is scheduled for three hours, comprises 150 scored test questions, may contain up to 25 unscored pretest questions. The topics evaluated are:

  • Gynecology – 35-40 percent
  • Obstetrics – 25-30 percent
  • Primary Care – 10-15 percent
  • Diagnostic testing and physical assessment – 10-15 percent
  • Pharmacology – 5-10 percent

Upon passing the exam candidates will earn the NCC’s WHNP-BC credential. Candidates can register for this exam online through the NCC’s website.

 


 

Step 3. Apply for an APRN License with the South Carolina Board of Nursing

With a specialized graduate education and national certification, candidates are ready to complete an APRN Application for Licensure as a nurse midwife with the South Carolina Board of Nursing (this can also be done online).

Nurse midwives who have completed a dual focus program in women’s health and earned the WHNP-BC credential through the NCC can complete an additional APRN application for licensure as a women’s health nurse practitioner.

Prospective nurse-midwives can check the progress of their application by looking themselves up on the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation’s license verification portal.

Supervising Physician Agreement

Included in the APRN application packet is a place to indicate the names of a supervising physician and a backup supervising physician. South Carolina law mandates that all APRNs must practice under the approximate supervision of a physician who specializes in the same area of practice, in this case an OB/GYN.

Prescriptive Authority

Nurse midwives and women’s health NPs in South Carolina can gain full prescriptive authority by completing these tasks:

 


 

Step 4. Explore New Career Opportunities and Keep Credentials Current

The South Carolina Board of Nursing can issue an APRN license in as little as 10 days after a complete application has been received. Once the license is active, CNMs can begin pursuing their career goals in nurse-midwifery.

CNMs who have just earned their APRN license will be excited to pursue a new career path with their current employer, the place where they completed their clinical education, or branch out to consider other employment options in smaller practices and birthing centers. Significant employers in South Carolina – and potential models for those who want to start their own practice – include the following:

  • Lexington Medical Center’s Birth Center in West Columbia
  • Palmetto Health’s Women’s Services and Birth Places in Columbia
  • Roper Saint Francis’ Pregnancy and Newborn Care unit in Charleston
  • Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) pregnancy services in Charleston, Mount Pleasant, and North Charleston
  • Piedmont Medical Center’s Women’s Tower in Rock Hill
  • Charleston Birth Place in North Charleston
  • Grand Stand Health’s Maternity Center in Charleston

Prospective CNMs and women’s health NPs can find examples of career paths by examining the following list of vacancies sourced from a statewide survey completed in 2015. (Listings are provided here as illustrative examples only and do not constitute a job offer or assurance of employment):

  • Certified Nurse Midwife with the Piedmont Gyn/Ob clinic in Rock Hill
  • Certified Nurse Midwife Clinician with Planned Parenthood in Columbia
  • Certified Nurse Midwife with Beaufort Memorial Hospital
  • Nurse Practitioner at Riverside Women’s Care in Bluffton
  • Nurse Midwife or Women’s Health NP at Palmetto Health Baptist Parkridge in Columbia
  • Director of Nursing in Women’s Services at the East Cooper Medical Center in Mount Pleasant

Renewing the APRN License with the South Carolina Board of Nursing

All APRN licenses in South Carolina must be renewed by April 30th of even-numbered years. To renew, nurse-midwives will need to do one of the following:

  • Maintain national certification with the AMCB (and maintain national certification with the NCC if also renewing a women’s health nurse practitioner APRN license)
  • Complete 30 hours of board-approved continuing education (and an additional 30 hours if also renewing a women’s health nurse practitioner APRN license)

Prescriptive authority can be renewed if the nurse-midwife has completed twenty hours of board-approved continuing education in pharmacotherapeutics.

Maintaining National Certification with the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB)

Nurse midwives can maintain their certification with the AMCB by enrolling in its Certificate Maintenance Program. This program is completed on a five-year cycle through one of the following options:

  • Retaking the National Certification Examination in Nurse-Midwifery
  • Completion of three certificate maintenance modules and 20 hours of continuing education

Maintaining National Certification with the National Certification Corporation (NCC)

Women’s health NPs can maintain their WHNP-BC credential with the NCC by enrolling in its maintenance program. This is completed on a three-year cycle and requires attaining between 10 to 50 hours of continuing education. The amount of required hours depends on a candidate’s score on the requisite Continuing Competency Assessment.


Salaries for Certified Nurse-Midwives in South Carolina

Data published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the median salary among nurse-midwives in South Carolina was $94,060 as of 2019. The starting salary among nurse-midwives was $20K less than the median that year at $73,940. Experienced nurse-midwives were reported to earn an average of $130,880.

Factors Contributing to Job Growth for Certified Nurse-Midwives in South Carolina

In 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor published projections showing that the number of nurse-midwives licensed in the state would likely increase by 33% between 2018 and 2028. The average 10-year growth rate of most other occupations throughout the state is just 11%, revealing an expected demand for certified nurse-midwives that is nearly three times greater than what is expected for most other occupations.

According to a 2015 article in The Post and Courier, approximately 50,000 babies are born in South Carolina each year, and about 2% of those births are either home births or take place in independent birthing centers. Though the vast majority of nurse-midwives work in hospital obstetric centers, a number also work in birthing centers and attend home births. Though there are very few out-of-hospital births in South Carolina when compared to in-hospital births, nurse-midwives attend virtually all deliveries that take place outside of the conventional hospital setting.

An Analysis of Nurse-Midwife Salaries in South Carolina According to Location

The average salary for nurse-midwives in South Carolina in 2019, according to the BLS, was $99,590. Salaries in the Charlotte metropolitan area are higher than the statewide numbers for all data points other than the most experienced nurse-midwives.

Statewide

  • Starting: $73,940
  • Average: $99,590
  • Experienced: $130,880

Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord

  • Starting: $87,760
  • Average: $108,790
  • Experienced: $127,850

(Salary data for nurse-midwives reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2019. Figures represent state data, not school-specific information. Job growth data provided by Projections Central, a resource funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. Conditions in your area may vary. Information accessed March 2021.)

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