Care for women is at the heart of what nurse midwifes do. And Case Western Reserve University’s Nurse Midwifery Program has played an important role in Ohio for the profession. Based at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, the program is the oldest nurse midwifery program in the state of Ohio. The program enrolled its first students in 1983, and the first class graduated in 1985.

The program’s graduate rate and certification rate with the American Midwifery Certification Board both stand at 100 percent.

Upon graduation and certification, nurse midwifes go on to provide a variety of services, ranging from primary care needs for women to pregnancy and childbirth. 

This year, National Midwifery Week is celebrated Sept. 29–Oct. 5. To recognize the profession, we asked Mary Franklin, program director and an instructor at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, to share five things to know about nurse midwifery.

Check out the Nurse Midwifery Program at CWRU, but first, read Franklin’s five things to know about the profession.

1. Nurse midwifery is one of the oldest advanced-practice nursing specialties.

In 1925, Mary Breckenridge opened the first nurse midwifery clinical service in Kentucky called Frontier Nursing Service. Also early in the 20th century, the Maternity Center Association was established in New York City. Building on the foundation from these and other pioneers, the professional organization, the American College of Nurse Midwives was founded in 1955.

2. Most nurse midwives attend births in hospitals. 

While some nurse midwives attend births in out-of-hospital settings, such as birth centers or homes, more than 90% of all nurse midwife-attended births occur in the hospital. Nurse midwives work in a wide variety of settings, including hospital-owned practices, private practices, safety-net clinics, birth centers, etc.

3. The nurse midwifery scope of practice includes care outside of pregnancy.

Nurse midwives are educated to provide a range of services, including adolescent reproductive health care, contraception, treatment of vaginal infections and sexually transmitted infections, diagnosis and treatment of common gynecologic conditions, menopause care, and sexual health care.

4. Nurse midwives are licensed to practice in all 50 states

Certified nurse midwives and certified midwives attended 332,107 births in 2014, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. (This is the most recent year for which final birth data are available.) This represents 12.1% of all vaginal births, or 8.3% of total U.S. births.

5. All nurse midwives have a graduate degree

To take the national certification exam given by the American Midwifery Certification Board, a nurse midwife must have an advanced degree in nursing or midwifery. All nurse midwives are also registered nurses.