A "licensed midwife" is an individual who has been issued a license to practice midwifery by the Medical Board of California. The practice of midwifery authorizes the licensee to attend cases of normal pregnancy and childbirth, and to provide prenatal, intrapartum, and postpartum care, including family-planning care, for the mother, and immediate care (first 6 weeks) for the newborn. The practice of midwifery constitutes the furthering or undertaking by any licensed midwife to assist a woman in childbirth as long as progress meets criteria accepted as normal.
The Medical Board of California has recently received several inquiries regarding the provisions of Section 2514 of the Business and Professions Code and the practice of midwifery by a student.Section 2514 states:
- Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prevent a bona fide student from engaging in the practice of midwifery in this state, as part of their course of study, if both of the following conditions are met:
- The student is under the supervision of a licensed midwife or certified nurse-midwife, who holds a clear and unrestricted license in this state, who is present on the premises at all times client services are provided, and who is practicing pursuant to Section 2507 or 2746.5, or a physician and surgeon.
- The client is informed of the student’s status.
- For the purposes of this section, a “bona fide student” means an individual who is enrolled and participating in a midwifery education program or who is enrolled in a program of supervised clinical training as part of the instruction of a three year postsecondary midwifery education program approved by the board.
Most of these inquiries involve individuals who may have executed a formal agreement to be supervised by a licensed midwife but are not enrolled in any approved midwifery education program. In some cases, the individual represents that he or she is “studying midwifery on their own”. In either of these circumstances, the individual is not a bona fide student because he or she is not formally enrolled in a midwifery educational institution or a program of supervised midwifery clinical training as part of the instruction of a three year postsecondary midwifery education program approved by the board. A student must be formally enrolled at a midwifery educational institution in order to participate in a program of supervised midwifery clinical training that is offered by that educational institution. A written agreement between a licensed midwife and a "student" does not qualify as a "program of supervised clinical training" as the training is not part of the instruction of a three year postsecondary midwifery education program approved by the board. Accordingly, these types of arrangements are not permissible as they are not consistent with the provisions of section 2514.
Approved Midwifery Schools
The three-year program at each of the following approved midwifery schools has been accepted as meeting the educational requirements for a license as a midwife in California. Approval was granted based on the program meeting the qualifications listed in Business and Professions Code 2512.5 and California Code of Regulations, Title 16, Section 1379.30
An applicant who has satisfactorily completed the three-year program at one of the approved midwifery schools must ask the school to submit directly to the board a verification of graduation. Note: If the school is no longer in operation, the applicant must submit sufficient supporting documentation to verify graduation from the approved program.
Approved Challenge Mechanism Programs
The challenge mechanism programs at the following approved midwifery schools have been accepted. As defined in statute, the challenge mechanism process allows students to obtain credit by examination for previous midwifery education and clinical experience.
Schools Approved but no Longer in Existence
- 5 Star Home Health Services, Inc.
- Birthingway College of Midwifery
- Birthwise Midwifery School
- Delphi Center for Midwifery Studies
- School of Complementary Medicine
- Seattle Midwifery School
- Maternidad La Luz
- Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery
Midwifery School Approval and Challenge Matrix
Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM)
The profession of midwifery also has another designation, that of "certified nurse-midwife" (CNM). CNMs are licensed by the California Board of Registered Nursing. CNMs are registered nurses who acquired additional training in the field of obstetrics and are certified by the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM). They commonly work in hospitals and birthing centers that are also licensed by the state. Further information or verification of licensure for a CNM may be obtained by contacting the Board of Registered Nursing at (916) 322-3350, (800) 838-6828, or at rn.ca.gov.