A women's health nurse practitioner (WHNP) is an advanced-practice nurse who provides primary care services to women across their lifespans. These nurses primarily focus on obstetric, gynecological, and reproductive health. Not only do they provide diagnostic care and treatment, but they also employ preventative health measures. It's important to distinguish WHNPs from certified nurse-midwives (CNMs). While the clinical focus of a CNM tends to be centered around childbearing, from conception to delivery, a WHNP treats female patients over their entire lifespan and does so mainly in a primary care office setting, as opposed to in a hospital or delivery room.
Task and duties commonly carried out by women's health nurse practitioners may include the following:
A high-level role, WHNPs often find employment in the following settings:
WHNPs require an advanced nursing education, as well as extensive experience caring for women of all ages. Some WHNPs start out as OB nurses or in other areas of women's care prior to becoming advanced practitioners. A deep understanding of women's health issues, such as fertility, childbirth, menopause, and breast health is crucial to the success of this nursing role.
To become a women's health nurse practitioner, the following educational credentials are required:
Yes, not only do women's health nurse practitioners need to have active and unrestricted RN licenses, but they must also possess graduate degrees in nursing (i.e. MSN or DNP degrees) from accredited colleges or universities. Additionally, WHNPs should have several years of clinical experience.
Individuals are awarded the Women's Health Nurse Practitioner board certification (WHNP-BC) through the National Certification Corporation (NCC). In order to meet the requirements for the certification, you'll need to have fulfilled the following:
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated in 2017 that over 166,000 nurse practitioners were currently employed in the country. Of that number, 12,000 to 15,000 were women's health nurse practitioners. In the coming years, employment opportunities for WHNPs are expected to grow due to an increased demand for healthcare services from an aging population as well as an increased emphasis placed on preventative care.
PayScale reports that, on average, women's health nurse practitioners make yearly salaries of approximately $89,659. The states where nurse practitioners can make the most money are California, Alaska, Massachusetts, Hawaii, and New Jersey. Aside from geographical location, other factors that will contribute to how much a WHNP earns include the employing organization, level of education, specific credentials held, and amount of clinical experience. WHNPs are highly sought after advanced-practice nurses. Those who are employed full time can expect to receive generous benefits packages to include medical, dental, and vision insurance coverage, as well as prescription drug coverage. Receiving some annual paid time off and sick leave is also generally of the norm for this profession.