Whether you decide to go back to school and study medicine, or you’re a new student about to enroll in college, you may want to look at the difference between a certified nurse midwife and a gynecologist. Though both a gynecologist and a midwife are medical professionals with experience in labor and delivery, gynecologists go through more training and have more experience dealing with difficult births. Looking at the differences between the two can help you decide which field you would rather study and one day enter.

Level of Training

The biggest difference between these two professions is the level of training and education required. Gynecologists must go to college and spend four years in medical school. They then do a residency program and spend up to four years working in labor and delivery units before practicing on their own. Gynecologists must also do some type of advanced training program that can last for up to three years. This is also known as a fellowship and is a requirement of all licensed gynecologists. Certified nurse midwives must complete a nursing program and have a nursing license. Many will gain some nursing experience in the field before completing a higher level midwifery program. They will spend up to three years in one of these programs before seeking certification. You may spend twice as long in school and working before becoming a gynecologist than you would to become a nurse midwife.

Experience with Difficult Pregnancies

When choosing between a career as a midwife or a gynecologist, you should consider which professions work with women experiencing complicated labors. Licensed medical doctors will need more experience handling difficult pregnancies. Difficult pregnancies include women who are diabetic and those with a history of ectopic pregnancies. Midwives offer a more natural method of childbirth than doctors do and generally encourage women to have vaginal births. A gynecologist can also perform a c-section, but a certified midwife usually cannot.

Emotional Care

A common reason why some choose a certified nurse midwife over a gynecologist is because they want more emotional care and support. A gynecologist might have dozens of other patients and have multiple patients giving birth at the same time. Midwives often limit their patients to a smaller number, which lets them become more emotionally invested in each patient.

Hospital Policies

According to Fit Pregnancy, the difference between a certified nurse midwife and a gynecologist might include their hospital policies. Many doctors have standards in place regarding what patients can do once they arrive at the hospital and may require that patients stay in bed and remain hooked up to machines that monitor them and their babies. If you work as a midwife, you may deliver babies outside of traditional hospitals and give your patients more freedom of movement during labor.

Certified nurse midwives and gynecologists have experience working with pregnant women and delivering healthy babies. While some women prefer the emotional bond they form with their midwives, others prefer working with a licensed doctor. The difference between a certified nurse midwife and a gynecologist lies in the amount of training they have and includes the emotional care they offer and the delivery policies they put in place.