Become a California Licensed Midwife : for Students and Experienced Midwives

Welcome to the California Association of Midwives, “Becoming a California Licensed Midwife” page!  Whether you are currently enrolled in a midwifery program, moving to California from somewhere else as an experienced midwife or are just starting out on your path to becoming a midwife, we are excited to represent you as your statewide organization.  

If you are just starting out, looking for a preceptor (a clinical educator), or starting a midwifery practice, becoming a CAM member is a great way to connect with other midwives and become more involved in your local midwifery community.  You can join CAM on our Become a Member page. For those of you looking to connect with other midwife students in the California, please consider joining our CAM student Yahoo Group   Also please check our Contact page to find our student representatives. They would be happy to answer any questions you have.  

What follows is an overview of Becoming a Licensed Midwife in California.

Become a California Licensed Midwife : for Students

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.

1. Enroll in a Medical Board Approved midwifery school

Check the Medical Board Website for a list of current approved schools.

2. 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.

3. 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).

Become a California Licensed Midwife for: Experienced Midwives

California Challenge

Midwives with other midwifery certification, training, education and/or licensure, such as CPMs, CNMs, lay midwives and/or foreign educated, trained or experienced midwives, may qualify for licensure through a Medical Board approved Challenge Mechanism.  

Questions Regarding the California Challenge Mechanism  (copied from the Medical Board of California website

  • I didn’t attend a formal midwifery education program, but received my training and experience via apprenticeship with a licensed midwife. Can I still qualify for licensure?
    • The California Challenge Mechanism is currently an option for midwives who have received their training via apprenticeship. The Challenge Mechanism includes a verification of clinical competency and experience. There are currently two Challenge Process programs that have been approved by the Board: Maternidad La Luz, located in El Paso, Texas, and the National Midwifery Institute, located in Bristol, Vermont. Individuals who pursue licensure via the Challenge Mechanism must also pass the NARM examination. NARM has a “Portfolio Evaluation Process” for experienced midwives which is part of the application process for the NARM examination. For more information, contact NARM.

    • Important Note: On January 1, 2015, the Challenge Mechanism, which provides credit for previous midwifery education and clinical experience, will no longer be a pathway for midwifery licensure in California. Recent legislation amended Section 2513 of the California Business and Professions Code. Beginning January 1, 2015, new licensees may no longer substitute clinical experience for formal didactic education at an approved midwifery education program.

  • I received my midwifery training and experience in another country. How can I qualify for a midwife’s license?
    • California law does not include a provision for recognizing international midwifery education and training. However, internationally trained and educated midwives can qualify for licensure via the California Challenge Mechanism. As with all applicants applying via the Challenge Mechanism, they must also pass the NARM exam. NARM has a “Portfolio Evaluation Process” for international midwives which is part of the application process for the NARM examination. For more information, contact NARM.

Certified Nurse Midwives are regulated by the California Board of Registered Nurses.  Information about becoming a Certified Nurse Midwife is available through the American College of Nurse Midwives

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