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Nurse midwives function as primary healthcare provider for women and most often provide medical care for relatively healthy women, whose birth is considered uncomplicated and not "high risk," as well as their neonate. Often, women with high risk pregnancies can receive the benefits of midwifery care from a nurse midwife in collaboration with a physician. Nurse midwives may work closely or in collaboration, with an Obstetrician & Gynecologist, who provides consultation and/or assistance to patients who develop complications or have complex medical histories or disease(s).
Nurse midwives practice in hospitals and medical clinics and may also deliver in birthing centers and attend at-home births. They are able to prescribe some medications, treatments, medical devices, therapeutic and diagnostic measures. Nurse midwives, in most cases they provide medical care to women from puberty through menopause, including care for their newborn (neonatology), antepartum, intrapartum, postpartum and nonsurgical gynecological care. In some cases, nurse midwives may also provide care to the male partner, in areas of sexually transmitted diseases and reproductive health, of their female patients. Currently 2% of nurse-midwives are men.
Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) in most states are required to possess a minimum of a graduate degree such as the Master of Science in Nursing or Post-Master's Certificate. By 2010, all Certified Nurse Midwives will be required to hold a graduate (Masters) degree. Most recently, the first Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program has become available for Certified Nurse-Midwives and will graduate its first class in May 2010. Additionally, Certified Nurse Midwives must also hold an active Registered Nurse license in the state in which they practice.
The American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) accredits Certified Nurse-Midwifery education programs and serves as the national specialty society for the nation's Certified Nurse Midwives. Midwife means "with woman" and thus is the mantra for the ACNM, "With women for a lifetime". The American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) estimates that soon, one in ten babies in the U.S. will be delivered by certified nurse-midwives.