Understanding Licensure, Certification, Educational Accreditation

AccreditationAnyone considering Midwifery training must become familiar with processes of:
1. State Licensure
2. Certification, and
3. Educational Accreditation

Firstly, in order to practice Midwifery legally in the State of California, one is required to either become a Licensed Midwife (LM), or a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM). LMs are licensed through the Medical Board of California, and CNMs are licensed through the Board of Registered Nursing. LMs and CNMs are technically allowed to practice in any locale, but LMs primarily practice outside of a hospital, and CNMs are more commonly found working within a hospital system. There are many CNMs who do practice outside of a hospital as well, working in birth centers and home birth practices. Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery prepares you to become a Licensed Midwife, as well as a CPM, which we will read about next. Another term for a non-nurse midwife is a “Direct-Entry Midwife.”

Secondly, the Certified Professional Midwife (CPM), is a national certification granted by the 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. As of January 2022, CPMs have a path to licensure in 35 states and the District of Columbia:

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Deleware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

Fortunately, midwifery has a respected mechanism for accreditation through the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC). MEAC offers specialized accreditation and is the only accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education for the accreditation of midwifery education schools and programs. Some states, such as California, require graduation from an approved midwifery program to sit for licensure; these states often specify that the educational program must be a MEAC-accredited school. Graduating from a MEAC-accredited program facilitates the process of becoming a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) through the North American Registry of Midwives. The CPM credential has become the “gold standard” for midwives who attend homebirths and birth center births. Typically it is the entry-level standard in states where direct-entry midwives are licensed.

In order to sit for the NARM exam, become a CPM, and thereby qualify to apply for the LM in the state of California, a student must complete an MBC approved MEAC accredited training program. The Midwifery Education Accreditation Council is a membership organization comprised of institutions and programs accredited by MEAC. The purpose of MEAC is to establish standards and criteria for the education of competent midwives, and to provide a process for self-evaluation and peer evaluation for diverse educational programs.
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.

Nizhoni is pleased and proud of the hard work we have put into attaining our MEAC accreditation and we are constantly striving to live up to the high level of education that MEAC accreditated programs are able to provide.

Upon satisfactory completion of all course requirements, the Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery awards a Diploma in Holistic Midwifery Studies.  The Institute promotes the highest standards in midwifery education but does not award degrees.  Significant consideration was given to this decision that was made with the support of representatives of the former California Bureau of Private, Postsecondary and Vocational Education and the Idaho State Board of Education.  State approval to grant degrees is significantly different from accreditation.   Accreditation is a voluntary, rigorous process that typically requires several years to complete.  Midwifery schools that choose to undergo accreditation do so because of their commitment to excellence in the field.

The number of midwifery schools in the United States is steadily increasing as families gain more experience with the midwifery model of care. Some schools are approved by the state in which they reside to grant degrees. Some schools, such as Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery, offer diploma or certificate programs.  Some schools and programs are accredited by the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC).  Other midwifery schools hold neither state approval nor MEAC accreditation.

In the United States there are two types of recognized educational accreditation from the United States Department of Education: specialized accreditation and institutional accreditation. Specialized accreditation is awarded to programs within institutions or to professional schools. Institutional accreditation is awarded to colleges and universities.  Institutional accreditation is granted by one of six recognized regional accrediting commissions: the New England Association of Schools and Colleges; the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools; the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools; the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges; the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools; and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.  These accrediting bodies are recognized by the United States Department of Education (DOE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).  Major universities in the United States are accredited by one of the six recognized accrediting commissions and attendance at a regionally accredited college or university significantly facilitates the recognition of degrees and credit transfers.

Students also should be aware that not all accrediting associations are legitimate.  Diploma mills often form their own “accrediting commissions” (often with names similar to recognized accrediting bodies) and then “accredit” their own programs.  Some non-traditional schools join together to form accreditation organizations, but their accreditation is meaningless when it comes to a student’s ability to pursue an advanced degree at a major college or university or even to apply for licensure in a profession.

Fortunately, midwifery has a respected mechanism for accreditation through the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC).  MEAC offers specialized accreditation and is the only accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education for the accreditation of midwifery education schools and programs.  Some states require graduation from an approved midwifery program to sit for licensure; these states often specify that the educational program must be a MEAC-accredited school.  Graduating from a MEAC-accredited program facilitates the process of becoming a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) through the North American Registry of Midwives.  The CPM credential has become the “gold standard” for midwives who attend homebirths and birth center births.  Typically it is the entry-level standard in states where direct-entry midwives are licensed.

The following statement is your NOTICE CONCERNING TRANSFERABILITY OF CREDITS AND CREDENTIALS EARNED AT OUR INSTITUTION.  The transferability of credits you earn at Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery is at the complete discretion of an institution to which you may seek to transfer.  Acceptance of the diploma you earn in the Holistic Midwifery Studies program is also at the complete discretion of the institution to which you may seek to transfer.  If the diploma that you earn at this institution is not accepted at the institution to which you seek to transfer, you may be required to repeat some or all of your coursework at the institution.  For this reason you should make certain that your attendance at this institution will meet your educational goals.  This may include contacting an institution to which you may seek to transfer after attending Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery to determine if your diploma will transfer.

An innovative development in midwifery education comes from The Midwifery Institute of Philadelphia University, which now offers advanced placement in their Master of Science in Midwifery program to qualified graduates of MEAC-accredited midwifery education programs.  Both R.N. and non-nurse graduates who hold a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution may obtain a regionally accredited master’s degree from The Midwifery Institute of Philadelphia University.  Depending upon whether or not the student is a registered nurse, graduates of the Midwifery Institute are certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board either as Certified Nurse-Midwives or Certified Midwives.  For information, please see:

https://www.jefferson.edu/academics/colleges-schools-institutes/health-professions/departments-programs/midwifery-womens-health.html

PLEASE NOTE: Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery will be closing at the end of the 2022 school year, and will no longer be accepting applications. Aspiring Midwifery Students are encouraged to visit the MEAC website and view the list of currently accredited programs in the United States.

Its been a pleasure teaching all of our wonderful students over the years, and we wish you all the best on your midwifery journeys.
~ The Nizhoni Team