Postgraduate midwifery: Registration with the NMBA explained

Midwifery can be highly rewarding, but there are a few caveats to observe when applying for postgraduate courses.
James Davis
James Davis
Team PostgradAustralia

Midwives help mothers-to-be have as comfortable a delivery as possible. They’re ever-vigilant of potential complications and know how to act within these eventualities. As a prospective student of midwifery, there are several small things you need to know before applying, regardless of program. In this article, we’ll talk about the most important requirement for entry into any midwifery program: getting registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA). Although your institution will have automatically enrolled you as a student during undergrad provided you were in a course approved by the NMBA, student registration is insufficient to practice as a midwife.

You need a few things to get enrolled with the NMBA, beyond just doing your undergraduate nursing degree. Bear in mind the following list is written for the sake of brevity and we encourage you to investigate the details illustrated for the most comprehensive picture of what’s required. The purpose of this list is to give you a broad sweep of what you need to do and how you get there.

  1. You’ll need to complete an assessment of your criminal history, the details of which can be found here. You’ve got to inform NMBA if you’ve ever been charged with an offence punishable by 12 months imprisonment or longer or if you’ve been convicted and found guilty of a crime overseas that you could also be punished for in Australia. Importantly, just having a criminal record won’t exclude you from being able to register. If you were young when you committed crime(s), were charged years ago, the severity of the crime(s) was/were fairly low or anything else, the NMBA can overlook past wrongdoing.
  2. English language skill registration, which you can do here. If English is your primary language, you have to prove you’ve done at least six years of primary and secondary education with an English language component. If English is your secondary language, you’ve got to prove you’ve done roughly five years of assessed English language learning. We recommend you take an IELTS exam, as this will not only prove English language competency, but is recognised by every university in the country and can help you get into your course. We’ve written a guide to succeeding in your IELTS exam and where you can take them here.
  3. You need to be endorsed as a nurse practitioner by someone, the details of which you can learn about here. If you’ve successfully completed your undergraduate nursing degree and associated placements, you should be good to go for this requirement provided you obtained your undergraduate degree in the last six years.
  4. Proof of continuing professional development (CPD), which you can learn more about here. Basically, this is about keeping your skills sharp. If you’re fresh out of uni (registered for three months) you only have to do an additional 5 hours of this, but it goes up with time. The longer you’ve spent out of university, the more additional ‘refresher’ training you’ll need to do.

Another important thing to note are your obligations to the NMBA after graduating from your postgraduate course. In addition to CPD, if you ever want to prescribe scheduled medicines as a midwife, you’ll have to jump through a couple more hoops detailed here. Quote from a 2010 amendment to the statement that gives eligible registered midwives the right to practice:

“Eligible midwife, but NOT qualified to obtain endorsement under section 94 to prescribe Schedule 2, 3, 4 & 8 medicines required for midwifery practice in accordance with State and Territory legislation.”

If this is something you aspire to do, you can apply to become a midwife eligible to prescribe scheduled medications here.

Hopefully this has given you a slightly better idea of what’s required to get into midwifery and the subsequent NMBA obligations. Remember, this is mainly a primer. For full detail, we recommend you follow the links provided in this article and study points relevant to you carefully. Good luck!