Become A Licensed Midwife
For Students and Experienced Midwives
Welcome to the California Association of Licensed Midwives, “Becoming a California Licensed Midwife” page!
If you are just starting out, looking for a preceptor (a clinical educator), or starting a midwifery practice, becoming a CALM member is a great way to connect with other midwives and become more involved in your local midwifery community. You can join CALM on our Become a Member page.
California Licensed Midwives are licensed and regulated by the Medical Board of California. California's midwifery licensing process requires students to enroll in a midwifery school that is approved by the Medical Board of California. Through such an approved program the student will gain academic training, specific clinical experiences, master entry-level midwifery skills, qualify for midwifery board exams and subsequent licensure in California. Here are the basic steps to becoming a midwife in California.
- Enroll in a Medical Board Approved midwifery school
Check the Medical Board Website for a list of current approved schools.
- Graduate from midwifery school
Schools include academic and clinical components. As part of your midwifery education, you’ll have books to read, papers to write, projects to complete, skills to master, and exams to complete. The clinic component will include a midwife clinical educator (preceptor), who will supervise all of your hands-on experience providing care during prenatal visits, labor, birth, and postpartum. Many students will have multiple preceptors in multiple practice settings. Some will complete all their clinic work in one setting. Sometimes the midwifery school will help the student find a preceptor, but more often this is the individual student’s responsibility. Once you’ve completed school work, mastered specific skills and specific clinical experience you’ll take a Board exam (currently the NARM exam, by the North American Registry of Midwives). This all leads to graduating from midwifery school, making you eligible to apply for a California Midwife License.
- Apply for your midwifery license
Once you’ve completed midwifery school and passed the Board exam, you will apply to the Medical Board of California for a midwifery license. (Licensed Midwife application).
- Note about the Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) designation: the CPM is a national certification granted by North America Registry of Midwives (NARM) and awarded to Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC) midwifery program/school graduates or individuals completing the NARM PEP (Portfolio Evaluation Process) process. Currently, all of the midwifery programs approved by the Medical Board of California are also MEAC programs whose graduates are awarded the CPM. However, MEAC is not the qualifying criteria for MBC approval and the CPM is not recognized in California as the criteria for legal practice. Additionally, not all MEAC programs meet the California licensed midwife education requirements, nor are all MEAC programs approved by the Medical Board of California. Nevertheless, newly licensed midwives will typically receive their CPM prior to applying for licensure in California. However, it is not legal to practice until a license is granted by the MBC. Further, most licensed midwives will maintain their CPM and whereas some will let it lapse. Reasons to maintain the CPM are to be in solidarity with the profession nationally and with other states that recognize the CPM for legal practice, and to support federal recognition and Medicaid recognition of the CPM credential. Reasons often sighted that LMs let their CPM lapse is because of the additional cost and recertification application process (every 3 years).
For Experienced Midwives
As defined in California Business and Professions Code Section 2513(a)-(c), the challenge process offers a midwifery student and prospective applicant the opportunity to obtain credit by examination for previous midwifery education and clinical experience. This opportunity is provided by individuals approved through a “challenge process” program. National Midwifery Institute is a California Medical Board approved Challenge Processes. Upon successful completion of the Challenge Process, the candidate also must successfully complete the comprehensive licensing examination administered by NARM. The candidate then may submit an application for California licensure.
Q. I received my midwifery training and experience in another country. How can I qualify for a midwife’s license?
A. California law does not include a provision for recognizing international midwifery education and training. Contact National Midwifery Institute or Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery to inquire about advanced placement opportunities and/or status of their "California Challenge" opportunity for experienced midwives.
Please visit the Medical Board of California Website for the most current information: www.mbc.ca.gov/Applicants/Midwives/
Photo Credit: Kaleem Joy Photography