Wanna Be A Midwife?

Everything you need to know to pick your path to midwifery
March 5th, 2013

Alphabet Soup: Professional Midwifery Organizations in the U.S. and What They Do

So I don’t know about you, but it took me a while to sort out all the different organizations that  represent and work with professional  midwifery in the U.S. If I wannabeamidwife, it really helps to understand not only what my options are but who is out there to support me.

Professional Organizations

Sometimes called “trade organizations” (a name I personally dislike), these are the representative organizations. Often there is a membership involved (usually with a membership fee). Membership may have defined parameters but in other organizations it is more open. Professional organizations “go to bat” for you, provide resources, publish information and even practice guidelines. The bigger ones have public relations and public policy staff and/or committees working to improve the status of the profession.

Accrediting Organizations

Accrediting Organizations are concerned with the accreditation of educational programs. Standards are set which define what is required for a student to graduate with the didactic knowledge and clinical  competencies to be a particular type of midwife. In addition, for a program to be accredited it must meet many other standards in terms of the quality of the faculty, curriculum, clinical sites and preceptors. The accrediting organizations are affiliated with the specific professional association of a type of midwifery.

Certifying Organizations

These are the certifying ‘bodies’ that establish the process for certification of the profession. In the context I am speaking of here, national certification is the most common example. Students graduate their programs and then “sit” for the national exams. When they are successful, they become certified. It is these “bodies” which are responsible for the exams and the certification process.

The diagram below gives you an idea of the current organizations serving these functions. Note however that there are midwives in the US not represented here. Not all midwives choose to be certified, but this gives you an idea of the organizations associated with the types of midwives that are. Also, see the links below the diagram from MANA and ACNM which provide good information on the different types and definitions of midwives in the US.

* Both ACNM and MANA welcome membership of all types of midwives


American College of Nurse-Midwives, Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education and American Midwifery Certification Board

Midwives Alliance of North America, National Association of Certified Professional Midwives, Midwifery Education Accreditation Council, and North American Registry of Midwives

Definitions of Midwifery from MANA Website

ACNM’s “What is a Midwife?”

Comparison of Certified Nurse-Midwives, Certified Midwives, and Certified Professional Midwives