Certified Nurse-Midwife / Women's Health Nurse Practitioner

Overview

A certified nurse-midwife (CNM) is a registered nurse who has also completed an accredited Master’s degree program in nurse-midwifery and passed the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) examination. In California, nurse-midwives are certified by the state Board of Registered Nursing (BRN).

For centuries, midwives have provided support and assistance in childbirth. Despite the most advanced medical technology in the world, the United States has higher rates of maternal and infant mortality compared to many countries that use midwifery as their primary model of care. Studies have indicated that midwife-attended births have lower cesarean birth rates, higher breastfeeding rates and lower NICU admission rates. Midwifery is increasingly recognized as an important component of comprehensive perinatal care, and increasingly integrated into health care systems.

Nurse-midwives provide primary care to childbearing individuals in a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings including hospitals, homes, and birth centers. They provide care that is informed by a core belief that birth is a physiologic process and that all physiologic processes should be supported by a wellness focus, including health promotion and disease prevention.

The Women's Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) is a registered nurse who has completed advanced education with a focus on the primary health care needs of women across the life cycle, with emphasis on conditions unique to women from menarche through the remainder of their lives. Program graduates are eligible to take the National Certification Corporation’s board examination for WHNP, and to be certified as a nurse practitioner by the Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) in California.

Academic Program

In 1975, the San Francisco General Hospital Nurse-Midwifery Service was established through the UCSF School of Medicine to provide a site for the education of nurse-midwives and to demonstrate that nurse-midwifery practice was a safe alternative to traditional obstetrical care in the hospital environment. The program subsequently partnered with the School of Nursing for the Master’s degree and in 2011, moved completely to the School of Nursing. Since its inception, the program has graduated over 500 nurse-midwives. The WHNP dual certification was added in 2007.

The program is dedicated to increasing service to vulnerable and underserved individuals and families. We adhere to the philosophy of the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM, but our unique program values are captured by the program’s own Mission, Philosophy, Purpose and Objectives, which we encourage all applicants to review prior to applying.

Admissions Requirements, Deadlines and Screenings

Admission to the Nurse-Midwifery/WHNP program is highly competitive. The program adheres to admissions requirements posted for the School of Nursing MEPN, Master’s and Post-Master’s programs. Applicants may reach out to the School of Nursing Director of Outreach, Recruitment and Retention for admissions and goal statement advice ,or the specialty coordinator.

The program is primarily focused on training nurse-midwives; we strongly encourage applicants to gain exposure to both nurse-midwifery practice and birth prior to application. Applicants from diverse and/or underrepresented backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply; please contact [email protected] for more information.

Note: Only those MS applications to the Nurse-Midwifery/WHNP specialty area which are fully complete by the annual priority deadline of Feb. 1st† will be reviewed for admission. Complete applications are those which include fee payment, all recommendations, transcripts, and fully completed/uploaded and locked on-line application pages. There will be no exceptions to this policy.

† In years where the first day of February falls on a weekend, the enforced deadline is the following regular workday, e.g., Monday.

In order to be considered for admission, all Nurse-Midwifery/WHNP applicants that pass an initial application screening process will be asked to attend an in-person interview early/mid-March. Our interviews are conducted in a unique “speed-dating” format in order to introduce applicants to many faculty members. More information will be provided after initial screening.

Post-Master’s

Post-master’s students are invited to apply. The Nurse-Midwifery/WHNP specialty area offers a two-year post-master's certificate program to registered nurses who are already prepared at the Master of Science level in Nursing and seeking to become a Nurse-Midwife/WHNP. The post-master’s student curriculum is determined according to each individual student’s previous preparation and experience. Post-Master’s admissions information can be found here.

Curriculum

This is a two-year (eight quarter-long) program leading to the Master of Science degree, with certificates in nurse-midwifery and as a WHNP. The core curriculum includes courses in:

  • advanced health assessment
  • nurse-midwifery management process
  • management of the antepartum, intrapartum, and postpartum periods
  • GYN and family planning health care
    • It is part of the role of nurse-midwives and WHNPs to provide family planning care and there are required competencies in abortion and family planning. Clinical rotations in abortion care are optional.
  • well-newborn care
  • management of complications
  • health promotion and disease prevention
  • assessment and management of common primary care signs and symptoms
  • clinical pharmacology
  • assessment and management of psychiatric symptoms
  • issues in professional practice
  • advocacy and policy

Sample Two-Year Plan

Please note that the Nurse-Midwifery/WHNP specialty curriculum and schedule are subject to change. As indicated by the curriculum table, the combined specialty track has a rigorous academic unit load, and graduates will complete more than one thousand hours of clinical training. Students in the Master of Science program also take a series of theory and research courses throughout their two-year program. This culminates in a final comprehensive scholarly paper.

Clinical Practica

Clinical residencies include rotations in antepartum, intrapartum, postpartum, gynecology, family planning, and newborn care.

  • Both overnight and weekend shifts should be anticipated during intrapartum clinical rotations.
  • Clinical rotations are throughout the greater Bay Area and may not be accessible by public transportation, so access to a car is necessary.
  • The final quarter of this program is a full-scope, ten-week clinical rotation called “Integration Clinical Residency.” Many members of the class will be assigned to an clinical site away from the Bay Area. This involves separation from family/community members and may have extra expense associated with relocation or travel.
  • Many of our clinical care sites have high numbers of monolingual Spanish-speaking patients. Spanish-language skills will make a difference in your learning experience and we strongly encourage strong Spanish-language ability, especially native speakers.
  • The Nurse-Midwifery/WHNP specialty makes every effort to accommodate student preferences when assigning clinical placements, but requests cannot always be accommodated due to factors beyond our control, including site and preceptor availability.

Certification

Students who graduate from the program are eligible to take the national board certification exams administered by the National Certification Corporation (NCC) and the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB).

Accreditation

The Nurse-Midwifery/WHNP program at UCSF is fully accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME), 8403 Colesville Road, Suite 1550, Silver Spring, MD 20910-6374; For information about accreditation, please contact ACME directly. Tel: 240-485-1802, [email protected], www.midwife.org/acme. The Nurse-Midwifery/WHNP program at UCSF is also accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

AMCB Exam Pass Rates and graduation rates are publicly available.

Frequently Asked Questions

What would make me a strong applicant? Each year, the strength of the overall pool of applicants determines admission offers. In general, strong applications in the review process reflect:

  • a clear understanding of the nurse-midwifery role and profession
  • the intention and interest in learning to be a birth attendant
  • a demonstrated commitment to health equity and addressing health disparities
  • a demonstrated commitment to working with underserved and/or vulnerable populations, including applicants from marginalized communities
  • demonstrated thoughtfulness in why the UCSF program fits your professional goals

Can I work during my Masters course of study? Working students must have a flexible schedule, as classwork and clinical placements vary quarter to quarter. In general, classes are scheduled on 1-3 days/week, and clinical rotations occupy 1 - 2 days/week. The Nurse-Midwifery/WHNP program is a full-time course of study, scheduled during weekdays, as well as some clinical rotations on nights and weekends.

Am I responsible for finding my own preceptors? The Nurse-Midwifery/WHNP program has well-established relationships with preceptors in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Although we are always open to student input in recruiting new preceptors, the clinical experience is carefully planned and progressive, and the program is responsible for providing supervised clinical rotations.

Is this an online program that can be completed from a distance? Some program content is provided online, but all specialty courses and most general courses currently have in-person class sessions.