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There are several educational paths which will allow someone to become a maternity nurse. The more training a nurse receives, the more employment options will be available, and this is something important to consider when making plans for a nursing education. Maternity nurses can work in hospital and clinic environments, and they may also provide home care services to their patients.
The role of the maternity nurse is to provide care for pregnant, laboring, and postpartum women. Some maternity nurses choose to focus on care in a specific area, such as helping women get ready for delivery, monitoring women during labor, or providing education after the birth. Someone who wants to become a maternity nurse can do things like teaching birthing classes, providing community outreach for women preparing to give birth, and assisting staff in a labor and delivery ward.
Educational paths to become a maternity nurse all require going to school and successfully passing a licensure exam to be admitted to practice. One option is a diploma program, which usually lasts three years. It is also possible to take a two year program to become a registered nurse (RN). Many maternity nurses have a four year nursing degree, and some RN's later get a bachelor's in nursing to increase their employability. In all cases, after someone has completed the training, it is still necessary to pass an exam to become a maternity nurse.
The nursing exam tests applicants on basic principles of nursing and is designed to ensure a standard level of competency. An adequate nursing program will usually prepare nurses to take the exam with a combination of coursework and clinical experience which is designed to provide students with hands on opportunities to apply their learning. It is also possible to take classes specifically to prepare for the licensing exam to become a maternity nurse, and these classes will offer test taking tips and other helpful hints to make the test less stressful.
Once admitted to practice, a nurse's education is not over. A skilled maternity nurse will take advantage of continuing education opportunities. Many nurses belong to professional organizations. Continuing nursing education after graduation and licensure is usually require to retain a nursing license, and exceeding the continuing education requirements demonstrates that a nurse is committed to the work and is interested in constant improvement and the chance to offer more skilled nursing care. Continuing education also gives someone who wants to become a maternity nurse an opportunity to learn about new standards and practices in the nursing community.
@dfoster85 - Did your friend have to work for several years in med-surg before she got a job on the maternity floor? My cousin wants to become a midwife, but the training program requires experience in labor and delivery. But she can't get hired in labor and delivery right away!
She said she might be able to get a job in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) so she would be able to attend some (high-risk) deliveries right away, but she will have to try to transfer to L&D later on.
A friend of mine is a mother-baby nurse -- that is, she is a maternity nurse who works with moms who have already delivered their babies and provides care for both the mom and the baby.
At her hospital, those are still separate. But she was telling me that a new hospital is opening nearby that will not have that separation. The moms will stay in the same room for their entire stay and will be cared for by the same nursing staff, so the nurses will do labor, deliver, *and* mother-baby! Personally, she prefers to specialize in moms who have already delivered, but some of her colleagues are thinking of transferring to the new facility (which is, of course, shinier and fancier).
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