A guide to becoming a midwife

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Midwives make an important contribution to families’ most precious moments. Given the invaluable role these healthcare professionals play in preparing women for childbirth and actually delivering newborns, as well as caring for mums and babies during the early postnatal period, it’s no surprise that these roles are often described as privileged. Of course, as well as being a rewarding job, midwifery has its challenges and responsibilities. So, if you’re to forge a career in this medical specialism, you’ll need all the right knowledge, skills and qualifications. To give your ambitions a boost, take a look at the following guide to becoming a midwife.

Getting onto a pre-registration course

In order to work in these roles within the NHS, you must have a pre-registration qualification in midwifery at degree level. This will allow you to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). There aren’t any standard national entry requirements to get onto these courses, so it’s up to individual universities to decide on the criteria. However, course providers usually require candidates to have a minimum of five A-C grade GCSEs (including English and a science subject) and at least two (but preferably three) A levels. Some institutions stipulate that this must include an A level in Biology.

Don’t panic if you lack these qualifications. Regardless of your age, it’s possible to complete these courses. One option is to start an A level distance learning course. These remote learning programmes give you added flexibility and, providing you choose a reputable course provider, you will benefit from all the resources you need and plenty of support.

Alternative qualifications may be accepted, such as an International Baccalaureate or a BTEC National Diploma. Some universities also accept applicants who have completed Access to Higher Education courses or foundation degrees. Check with your preferred universities to see exactly what they look for.

The next step

Pre-registration courses in midwifery are provided by universities and they take at least three years to complete. Half of these programmes is devoted to academic study, while the other half involves work placements in hospitals and the community.

If you are already a registered nurse, you have the option of signing up for an accelerated training programme instead. These courses last for 18 months.

Keep your skills up-to-date

Once you’ve qualified as a midwife, you’ll be able to search for suitable roles.
Careers in this field offer plenty of flexibility, support and opportunities to learn. Bear in mind though, midwives are responsible for keeping their knowledge up to date, so you can never afford to rest on your laurels. You must also keep the NMC informed of your progress in order to remain on the professional register.

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