Finding my first Nurse Midwife job is a question that I get asked about a lot. Many aspiring and/or student Midwives worry about the job market once they are fully credentialed and licensed. This is a valid concern as the road to becoming a Midwife is long (at least 6 years post high school), expensive (hello loans), and filled with sacrifices. It is definitely a stable career as women will never stop having babies; however, getting your foot in the door for that first job can feel daunting. I've had 3 Nurse Midwife jobs since graduating, and overall I would say that it is not difficult to find a job. What is difficult is finding the right job, so it's important to have realistic expectations as a new grad. Of course, this depends on where you live and whether Midwives are heavily used in your area. I always suggest talking to an actual Midwife in your desired city, but here are some general tips for finding your first job.
1. Make Contact With a Real Person
I actually found my first Midwife job two months before graduating. I had everything lined up and a job waiting for me to pass boards and receive my license. I even traveled around Europe and SE Asia for 6 weeks, as I waited for all the paperwork to go through. So what's the secret? I made contact with a real person and started early. There's absolutely nothing wrong with beginning your job search before graduation. It can take a couple of months to find one, and then once you do, it always takes about 3 months to go through the credentialing process with the hospital. So the timeframe from that yes to actual start date is a minimum of 3 months. Get a head start by making contact with practices before graduation. Making contact means sending a direct email, calling the practice, or in the days of non-COVID, stopping by the practice to introduce yourself and drop off your resume. This type of initiative has always landed me a job, as opposed to filling out an application on a job site. Thousands of people send out their resume online, but only a few make that extra step to connect. Your future job is looking for those few who take initiative and stand out. If you do find a job posted online, send in your application then call the listed number. Let them know you are really interested in the position and checking on the status of your application. Recruiters can also help as they connect you with real jobs that may not be listed.
2. Understand Your First Job Is Not Your Dream Job
This is a hard pill to swallow, but your first job may be the thing of nightmares. For instance, my first job consisted of me running the practice and being on call 24/7. It was like having my own practice without reaping the financial benefit. It wasn't ideal, but I gained tons of experience in that year and proved that I could work independently and refer appropriately; both which are very attractive to a dream employer. I'm not saying you have to take that kind of position (I was single with no kids so had the time to commit to that type of job), but you may not end up with your forever job right away. As a new grad, you don't have any Midwifery experience, even if you have L&D experience, and there is a steep learning curve that first year. The brutal truth is that if it's between you and someone with years of experience, they will choose the more seasoned Midwife. Start thinking of your first job as a building block and place to gain experience and learn as much as possible. Once you understand it for what its for, you won't get caught up on having your dream salary, schedule, or both. A year will pass quickly, and no one will look at you sideways if you leave your first job after that time. Even a year of experience can make all the difference in opening doors.
3. Diversify Your Skills and Experience
If you have L&D experience, you are already ahead of your opponent with no L&D experience. However, I had no L&D experience and still have been successful in my job hunt. I will say diversify your experience as much as possible. For example, I worked as a doula, which may not matter to a highly medicalized practice, but if you have your heart set on working at a birth center, this type of experience would definitely be valued. Also try to learn how to first assist for C-sections while in school, as this is a highly marketable skill. If your clinical site doesn't offer this option, you can always take a course learning how to do this. If you can get water birth or out of hospital experience, do this as well if you are looking for positions that incorporate this once you are out of school. Learn how to insert IUD's, endometrial biopsies, etc., just learn as many skills as possible to boost your resume. L&D experience isn't the end all be all, especially since the responsibilities of a L&D nurse and Nurse Midwife are vastly different.
I hope these tips help you as your begin or continue your job search. I think the biggest takeaway is to have realistic expectations and remember that your first job can be a wonderful place to grow, but not necessarily to stay.
xoxo, Global Midwife