Midwives can go by many names and enter the field with various levels of training, which can cause confusion when it comes to figuring out their legal responsibilities. Regardless of their background or education, a midwife is not a doctor, but this does not mean he or she cannot prescribe medication.

Whether a midwife has the legal capacity to write prescriptions depends on his or her licensing status, according to the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

No license

Pennsylvania does not make licensing mandatory for all people who wish to practice as a midwife. Some midwives may have no formal education and learn through apprentice-type programs. They do not qualify for licensing in the state, and therefore, they cannot prescribe medication.

Licensing procedure

To get a midwife license, a person must first become a registered nurse and obtain a license through the State Board of Nursing. Then, the person must get a midwife license through the State Board of Medicine. Requirements for this license stipulate the person must pass an examination or hold a certification from the American College of Nurse-Midwives. The law also requires a midwife to have an agreement with a physician.

Once a midwife has the proper licensing and has a collaborative agreement in place, he or she has the authority to provide services, including prescribing medications. Do note the agreement with the physician must address prescription powers and validate them for the midwife to legally be able to prescribe. For such a provision, the education and training background of the midwife must include specific training in prescriptions and medications.