Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP)
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Role
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Scope of Practice
A women’s health nurse practitioner provides primary health care services to women of all ages, generally beginning at adolescence and continuing through pregnancy and menopause. The WHNP has a specific specialization in obstetrics and gynecology, but also engages with a wide scope of women’s health issues such as eating disorders, well-woman care, health education, prenatal care, contraceptive counseling, episodic or chronic illnesses, and STDs.
Some women’s health nurse practitioners take on a role more heavily involved with diagnosis-treatment, while others function as advisers to women who want to plan a healthy pregnancy by offering advice from pre-conception through to the postpartum period. In short, the WHNP is not defined by any single role and may provide health care to women of all ages in a variety of valuable ways.
The WHNP also has the opportunity to meet these challenges in a variety of different clinical settings. Women’s health nurse practitioners work in hospitals, OB-GYN clinics, family planning clinics, Planned Parenthood, women’s health clinics, prenatal clinics, women’s prisons, and private practices.
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Salary
Women’s health nurse practitioner salaries are higher than RNs without a Master’s in Nursing. The average women’s health nurse practitioner salaries is $96,000 per year and will vary depending on years of experience, geographic location where the NP is practicing, clinical setting, and any additional certifications.
The job outlook for women’s health nurse practitioners is positive. Many healthcare facilities recognize the extensive clinical experience NPs bring to women’s care at a cost significantly lower than full-time physicians, and offer lucrative benefits and bonus packages to attract qualified candidates.
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Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Education
Curriculum and Core Classes
Women’s health nurse practitioner education programs are designed to meet the requirements of the NCC certification exam while providing an opportunity for the student to specialize in a particular area of women’s health. According to the NCC competency statement, graduates of women’s health nurse practitioner education programs should be able to obtain a gynecologic history from their patients, identify gynecological health issues and provide management and education support for family planning, fertility control, and prenatal and postpartum care.
The two basic components of women’s health nurse practitioner education programs are course work and a clinical preceptorship. The course work will vary depending on the chosen specialty, but the core classes will include advanced physiology, advanced pharmacology and advanced health screening. All other course work will cover research fundamentals, statistics, ethics and women’s health issues in depth. Students should be prepared to complete 40 to 60 credits for the Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree.
The clinical component of the curriculum also varies according to the student’s preferences, but the main requirement is that the preceptorship provide the student with training specific to their chosen specialty, whether that be in an OB/GYN office, working as a midwife, or something else. The amount of hours and the type of work required to satisfy the clinical component of the curriculum varies by institution. The NCC does not have a minimum hours requirement for the women’s health nurse practitioner certification.
Admission requirements for women’s health nurse practitioner education programs are relatively standard. Students are required to have at least two years of work experience as an RN, as well as a valid RN certification. Applicants should check with individual universities about minimum GPA requirements and GRE scores.
After graduation, students should be prepared to sit for their national certification exam. The certification exam is administered by the National Certification Corporation (NCC). Graduates who successfully pass the exam are awarded the WHNP credentials. The basic eligibility requirements for taking the exam include current licensure as an RN in the U.S. or Canada and successful completion of a women’s health nurse practitioner program not before 2005. The certification examination evaluates students’ advanced physiology, health assessment and pharmacology knowledge, as well as their ability to perform the essential functions of a women’s health nurse practitioner (WHNP).
The length of women’s health nurse practitioner education programs will be different for students enrolling for a master’s, post-master’s or doctorate degree. Students with a BSN who enroll full time can expect to spend 18 to 24 months earning the MSN. Post-masters students can complete the program more quickly, and part-time students will take longer. The exact schedule will depend on the individual student’s availability. Students interested in earning a doctorate (DNP) can expect to spend two to three years in the program.
National Certification Corporation (NCC) (Source: NCC)
Eligibility RequirementsActive RN license, masters degree or higher in an approved women’s health nurse practitioner program
Certification ProcessInitial application, followed by examination (offered both once-a-year as a written examination in September, and year-round as a computer-based examination)
Fees$250 for written examination online application/$275 for written examination mailed application/$300 for computer-based examination online application/$325 for computer-based examination mailed application
Renewal$100 fee, 45 continuing education contact hours, every 3 years; reductions in the free are available through specified continuing education courses
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