The main reason nurses get into their profession is because they want to care for patients, and the same is certainly true for midwives. Midwives have a passion for women’s healthcare and want to extend their knowledge with their patients. Being a midwife is more than just delivering babies. Like any nursing profession, Midwifery takes talent, skill and dedication. A midwife is a health professional trained to support and care for women during pregnancy, labour, birth and the postnatal period. There’s far more to midwifery than just delivering babies. It’s a diverse and challenging career that’s all about forging connections, building trust and multitasking.
There is something so special about the birth of a baby, and these highly trained professionals are there to be a part of that special event. Having a caring and compassionate professional midwife during your pregnancy and childbirth is especially comforting as they are with you every step of the way. Midwives also have a passion for providing health and parent education and supporting women and their families throughout the childbearing process to help them adjust to their parental role.
Midwifery has experienced strong growth in the past decade, and the Australian Government jobs data predicts it will continue to grow moderately over the next few years. It is a profession with high demand and future growth. The number of people working as Midwives (in their main job) grew very strongly over the past 5 years and is expected to grow very strongly over the next 5 years: from 19,900 in 2018 to 23,200 by 2023. Job openings can come from new jobs being created, but most come from turnover (workers leaving). There are likely to be around 10,000 job openings over 5 years (that’s about 2,000 a year).
In order to become a midwife, you must complete a recognised course of study and become registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia. Here is some information to consider if you are interested in pursuing a career as a midwife.
Is Midwifery for me?
The best way to get a sense of what it’s like to be a midwife is to listen to midwives talking about their career and why they chose to work in this field. It will also be useful for you to talk to women who have just had babies to get their perspectives on maternity and midwifery services, as well as consumer groups such as Maternity Choices Australia and Homebirth Australia. Another tip is to join your local branch of the Australian College of Midwives as this will help you network with local midwives.
Getting the qualification
There are two pathways to becoming a registered midwife. One is to complete a Bachelor of Nursing course at university and then complete postgraduate studies in Midwifery. The other is to complete Bachelor of Midwifery course (three years full-time or the equivalent part-time). Many institutions around Australia offer midwifery. You just need to research and find one that suits you. The admissions process differs everywhere so make that part of your research too. As course fees vary, you may be eligible for study assistance. The Commonwealth Government has several schemes accessible for stuents. These degrees provide a mixture of theory and clinical experience in a range of midwifery settings to give you broad exposure to the areas of midwifery practice. To apply for these courses, you need to have completed your High School Certificate (HSC) with the required subjects and an appropriate Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) or equivalent. Check with the Universities Admissions Centre (UAC) for each university’s entry prerequisites. Most universities require you to have studied English, Mathematics and at least one science subject as part of your HSC. In some cases, you may also need a First Aid Certificate. If you don’t have a HSC then you will need to talk directly to the university about other entry pathways such as Tertiary Preparation Courses (TPC) and Special Tertiary Admissions Tests (STAT). If you are thinking of doing nursing and then entering into a midwifery program, the application process will be different.
Bachelor of Midwifery, this qualification prepares you to work as a midwife in universities such as: Southern Cross University, Western Sydney University, University of Technology Sydney, University of Newcastle, Charles Darwin University.
Graduate Diploma of Midwifery, this degree provides Registered Nurses with specialist training in order to apply for Midwife positions in universities such as: Deakin University, Charles Sturt University, Western Sydney University, University of Technology Sydney.
Alternatively, for students with qualifications in nursing, complete a Graduate Diploma of Midwifery or Master of Midwifery Practice. These courses are generally 12 – 18 months in duration. Once you graduate, you are required to apply to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) to practice as a Registered Midwife. You must renew your registration annually with the NMBA in order to practice in Australia. Once registered, your career as a midwife can really begin. It is important to remember, once you have qualified you will be required to complete a mandated number of Professional Development hours every year. Registration must be renewed annually and midwives must complete 20 hours of professional development annually. Some nursing agencies also provide information on appropriate courses that qualify for CPD. You can also take courses online that may also count towards your annual commitment.
Today’s workforce is a global one, so if you’ve qualified overseas, provided you have the right visas, you can work in Australia. You midwifery qualifications need to be recognised here though, for you to work in that particular field. For more information, visit The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council website. Moving to Australia to work as a midwife can be a complex and time-consuming process. To be able to work in Australia as a midwife, you will need to register as a midwife, obtain an appropriate visa and fulfill English-language requirements. The Australian College of Midwives does not provide advice about migration or visa requirements.
Registration – to become registered as a midwife in Australia, you need to lodge an application with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) which is the body that regulates midwifery.
Visas -to be able to work in Australia, you will need a visa. Information about visas can be found on the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) website. Some visas require that you go through a skills assessment. DIAC will inform you if a skills assessment is required as part of your visa application. Skills assessments for midwives are carried out by an organisation called the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC). ANMAC has an extensive FAQ web page which will probably answer many of your questions.
The Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Agreement – if you are a New Zealand midwife, you may register to be a midwife in Australia under the Trans Tasman Recognition Agreement. If you are a New Zealand citizen you may work in Australia with a Special Category Visa. However, if you wish to move to Australia and apply for permanent migration, you will need to undergo a modified skills assessment with ANMAC.
How midwives work
Midwives provide care and advice to women during pregnancy, labour and childbirth, and postnatal care for women and babies in a range of settings such as the home, community, hospitals, clinics and health units. You’ll mainly deal with pregnant women requiring professional support and advice. You are likely to be the lead health professional and contact for a woman, providing evidence-based information and helping her make informed choices about the options and services available throughout her pregnancy.
The majority of midwives practice within hospitals, working with other midwives or as part of a small team, with other health care professionals such as obstetricians, neonatologists, anaesthetists, general practitioners, health visitors and support staff. Once registered, midwives can use their qualification to work in other health care settings such as special baby care units and Neonatal Intensive Care Units. Some midwives become specialists in areas such as diabetes or public health and perinatal mental health. There are also opportunities to work in research and or education.
What tasks are midwives involved in?
- Providing antenatal care, assessment and information to pregnant women, their partners throughout pregnancy
- Providing care and management of pregnancy and birth
- Monitoring the condition of women and foetuses during pregnancy and throughout labour
- Assessing progress and recognising warning signs of abnormal and potentially abnormal pregnancies requiring referral to an obstetrician
- Providing monitoring, support and assistance during the labour and birth and helping to deliver the baby
- Conducting health education classes and seminars to promote the health of mothers and babies such as reproductive health, antenatal education, preparation for parenthood, breastfeeding and advice about caring for the newborn baby.
- Providing advice on nutrition, childcare and family planning
- Midwifery usually involves shift work, and the majority of midwives work in hospitals, however some are based at community health clinics or in private practice.
- The role of a midwife is varied, and each day is usually different depending of whether you are conducting prenatal, antenatal or postnatal appointments, or attending a birth.
Because midwives support women before, during and after childbirth, the job is diverse. They generally work shifts – AM, PM or night shifts of eight hours or more. While nurses are usually stationed on a particular ward, it’s common for midwives to switch between different areas within a hospital.
It is a great idea to register with our agency Best Practice Nursing Agency. We can assist you to find contract nursing positions or fulltime positions. Often, nursing agencies find out about roles before they’re actually advertised.