Becoming an Obstetrics Nurse: Job Description & Salary Info

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Get the truth about an obstetrics nurse's salary, education and licensing requirements and career prospects. Read the job duties and descriptions and see the pros and cons of becoming an obstetrics nurse.
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Pros and Cons of an Obstetrics Nurse Career

Obstetrics nurses, also known as nurse midwives, provide patient healthcare to women and their families. Below are some of the primary pros and cons you may want to consider before you embark on this career path.

Pros of an Obstetrics Nurse Career
Favorable employment increase predicted for the 2012-2022 decade (29%)*
Strong earnings potential (mean wage over $97,000 in May 2014)*
May find personal satisfaction from helping others*

Cons of an Obstetrics Nurse Career
May need an advanced degree for advanced practice nursing positions*
Irregular work schedules are common*
Nursing can be physically and emotionally challenging*
May be exposed to communicable diseases and dangerous chemicals*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Obstetrics Nurse Career Info

Job Description and Duties

Nurses who work in obstetrics provide care during pregnancy and childbirth and also assist in caring for newborns. They are sometimes known as midwife nurses or have midwife nurse certification. Because babies are born at all hours, these nurses also work all hours of the day and night. Some nurses may work in hospital obstetrics wards caring for women during their post-delivery stay or caring for infants in neonatal wards.

Nurses who work in both obstetrics and gynecology (known as OB/GYN nurses) are qualified to offer women's care services from menarche through menopause. They offer prenatal services ranging from exams to patient education. Some are required to prescribe medication, order tests and assess the results to provide diagnoses.

Salary and Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) registered nurses in general can expect to see an employment opportunity increase of about 19% between 2012 and 2022. The BLS also notes that advanced practice nurses should be in even greater demand. Nurse midwives are projected to see a 29% rise in employment during the same decade. As of May 2014, registered nurses earned an annual mean wage of more than $69,000, while nurse midwives made an average salary of about $97,000.

What Are the Requirements for a Career in Obstetrics Nursing?

Education and Licensing

To become a nurse you'll need to go through an approved nursing program such as an associate's or bachelor's program for nursing. These programs include clinical work in facilities that may allow you to get your first experience in obstetrics. To practice as a nurse in the U.S., you'll also need to get your registered nursing license. Each state has its own criteria, but most require you to pass the National Council Licensing Examination for registered nursing. Advanced practice nursing certifications require you to earn a master's degree with a specialization, and the nurse-midwife focus is designed to prepare you for careers that cover gynecological and obstetrical nursing.

What Employers Seek

Personal traits that are an asset to nurses include compassion, critical thinking skills and emotional stability. Below you'll see actual requirements and job aspects listed by prospective employers in November 2012.

  • There was a certified nurse-midwife opening in a San Francisco hospital. Candidates must be certified by the American College of Nurse Midwives, have a California nurse-midwife license, be bi-lingual, have experience in high-risk obstetrics and current CPR. This job includes full-scope, clinical work with labor and delivery, gynecology and prenatal care.
  • The U.S. Military is searching for a civilian nurse-midwife to work at a base in Virginia. Applicants must have a current nursing license from any U.S. state or territory and be a graduate of a certified nurse-midwife program approved by the American Nursing Association. This position requires at least two years of experience working as a nurse-midwife within the last four years and either basic life support or CPR certification.
  • A hospital in California is offering a position for an obstetrics nurse. Candidates must have a current California nursing license, maintain basic life support certification, and ideally, have neonatal resuscitation program certification as well. The hospital also requires employees to earn basic or advance fetal monitoring certification within three months of hire. Duties include being responsible for a patient during a specified period of time, monitoring a patient during delivery and providing care for both mother and baby post-partum.

Standing Out in the Field

Although many nurses might end up with their dream position by first gaining years of experience, more employers are now seeking advanced degrees and certification. Obstetrics covers a broad range of women's care, but there are at least three specialization paths you can follow that will qualify you to work in this field. You can earn your master's degree with a specialization in an area such as nurse-midwife, neo-natal nurse practitioner and women's health nurse practitioner. There are also certifications you can earn through various specialized nursing associations and organizations such as fetal monitoring.

Related Career Options

Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics

If the length and cost of education is problematic, you might consider a career as an emergency medical technician (EMT) or paramedic. The BLS predicted these professionals would see an employment opportunity increase of 33% in the 2010-2020 decade. You can enter these professions by getting training in authorized facilities or through programs in community and technical colleges. Both jobs require you to be licensed, and you may be required to pass an exam offered through the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. Most states require EMTs and paramedics to pass criminal background checks. The BLS noted that EMTs' and paramedics' annual mean wage as of May 2011 was over $34,000.

Pediatrician or Obstetrician

If education time and costs aren't a factor, you might consider becoming a physician who focuses on obstetrics. According to the BLS, physicians and surgeons were expected to see an increase of 24% in job prospects during the 2010-2020 decade. You'll need a professional or doctoral degree, and specialization requires an additional 3-7 years of residency training. You'll also need to be licensed by the American Medical Association. The BLS reported that pediatricians earned an annual mean wage of almost $169,000 in May 2011, while obstetricians and gynecologists earned an annual mean wage of about $219,000 that same year.

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Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
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Regent University

  • Doctor of Strategic Leadership - Healthcare Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Healthcare Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)

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Colorado State University Global

  • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration

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Penn Foster High School

  • HS Diploma

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Utica College

  • RN to BSN

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Abilene Christian University

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  • Doctor of Nursing Practice - Advanced Practice Nurse
  • MBA - Healthcare Administration
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Queens University of Charlotte

  • Master of Science in Nursing: Undecided
  • Master of Science in Nursing: Nurse Administrator
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Fortis College

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