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.
What Are Some Women's Health Nurse Practitioner Duties?
Task and duties commonly carried out by women's health nurse practitioners may include the following:
Taking comprehensive obstetric and gynecologic medical histories
Assessing, diagnosing, and treating disease risk factors which are specific to women
Educating patients on available forms of contraception
Evaluating physical and social environmental risks which could impact childbearing
Inserting long-acting reversible contraception tools such as intrauterine devices or implanted devices
Screening for substance abuse, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and risky behaviors
Assessing, diagnosing, and treating sexually transmitted diseases
Ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests
Working alongside OBGYN physicians - assisting during surgical or invasive procedures
Addressing patient concerns of infertility
Educating and counseling patients about menopause
Assisting patients through the perinatal period
Performing primary care procedures like pap smears and endometrial biopsies
Monitoring fetal activity
Collaborating with health care providers to effectively manage high-risk pregnancies
Where Do Women's Health Nurse Practitioners Work?
A high-level role, WHNPs often find employment in the following settings:
Women's health clinics
Community health clinics
OB/GYN physicians' offices
How to Become a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner
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.
Step 1: Educational Requirements
To become a women's health nurse practitioner, the following educational credentials are required:
Earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
Pass the NCLEX-RN prelicensure exam
Obtain an RN license
Earn a Master's in Nursing Science (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), usually with a WHNP specialty
Do Women's Health Nurse Practitioners Need an RN Degree?
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.
Step 2: Required Women's Health Nurse Practitioner Certifications/Credentials
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:
Hold a BSN degree from an accredited college or university
Possess an active and unrestricted RN license
Have successfully completed an accredited graduate nurse practitioner program that meets NCC program requirements
Program can be an MSN, DNP, or post-master's certificate
Certification exam must be completed within 8 years of graduating from the graduate degree program
Women's Health Nurse Practitioner Jobs, Salary & Employment
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.
Job Description & Information
Essential Skills Needed - Excellent assessment and diagnostic abilities, strong critical thinking skills, well-honed interpersonal communication skills, extensive educational background in women's health, compassion, empathy, teamwork
Job Outlook - The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that overall employment of nurse practitioners is projected to increase by 31 percent from 2016 to 2026 - much faster than the average for all other occupational sectors.
What Is the Average Salary of a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner?
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.
How Much Do Women's Health Nurse Practitioners Make per Year?
$71,000 – $109,000 annually
How Much Do Women's Health Nurse Practitioners Make per Hour?