How to choose between Midwifery and Nursing

May 25, 2016

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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While there is a slight overlap in the duties that midwives and nurses perform, the two careers are distinctly different.

Midwives focus on the health and well-being of pregnant women, from the time they conceive till after childbirth. After the baby is born, the midwife continues to care for the mother and her newborn for the first few weeks.

Nurses, on the other hand, work in a wide variety of medical specialties, including but not limited to labor and delivery.

Not sure whether you would like to pursue a career in nursing or midwifery? This article highlights the differences in training and job duties. It is important to complement this information by obtaining some hospital work experience that will allow you to get a first-hand look at what nurses and midwives do in real-life situations.

Work settings & duties

As a midwife
You may work in a hospital, within a community or as a private practitioner. In all settings, your primary focus will be to provide advice, care, and support to pregnant women and their families, from the time of conception, right through the pregnancy, delivery and into the postnatal period. After some years of experience, you can specialize in specific areas such as teenage pregnancy, public health or women’s health.

As a nurse
You could work in any type of healthcare facility including hospitals, private clinics, GP surgeries, nursing homes, hospices or voluntary organizations. Depending on your specialty, you would also find opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry and home health care or as an occupational health nurse. The specialty options for nurses are vast. You can choose from fast-paced specialties that involve direct patient contact such as ICU, ER and transplant nursing to behind-the-scenes fields that involve little or no patient contact such as legal consultant, case management and forensic nursing. There are basically 4 areas you can choose to specialize in – adult nursing, children’s nursing, mental health nursing and learning disability nursing. The types of patients you care for and your specific duties would depend on which field you choose to specialize in.


To practice as a midwife in Australia, you will need to complete a 3-year Bachelor of Midwifery course.

To practice as a nurse, you will need to complete a 3-year nursing program with additional advanced training depending on your chosen specialty.

How hospital work experience can help you make this decision

It’s difficult to envision exactly what a nurse or midwife does without actually seeing them in action. Working as a midwife may seem like a dream job for someone who loves the thought of bringing a new life into the world. However, it also means being hands-on during the actual delivery, which could involve a lot of blood, bodily fluids, pain and angst before the baby is born. Sometimes, things can go horribly wrong. There’s no way to know whether you can handle all of this without having some firsthand experience. That’s where hospital work experience comes in.

Hospital work experience allows you to observe nurses and midwives as they go about caring for their patients. This will give you a good idea of what you can expect from each of these careers, making it easier for you to decide whether midwifery or nursing would be the better career for you.


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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives, and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.