Online Certified Nurse Midwifery/Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Programs

Aspiring nurses are opting to enroll in online dual Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs, hoping to broaden their career options. One such program is the CNM/WHNP, which combines a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) degree with a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) degree. 

In all 50 U.S. states, nurse midwives and women’s health nurse practitioners are recognized as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). But these two roles also contain many distinctions. This page highlights some of those distinctions and lists some factors to consider when searching for the WHNP/CNM program that’s right for you.

Given the natural overlap in the scope of work handled by nurse midwives and women’s health nurse practitioners, you may find that the combined program not only allows you to enhance your education, but also reveals a more comprehensive approach to women’s health and primary care. CNM/WHNP dual degree programs are not only available at brick-and-mortar schools. There is at least one online Nurse-Midwifery/Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner program:

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Should I Pursue a CNM/WHNP Dual Degree?

The combined CNM/WHNP dual degree offers students the opportunity to complete all of the courses and requirements needed to receive national certification in both APRN specialties—which for many students is a huge incentive.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 13 percent of women aged 18 and over are in fair and poor health. On the global level, 295,000 women died of maternal causes in 2017 alone. By completing a CNM/WHNP program, you will be poised to provide comprehensive care and support to at-risk women within primary and clinical care settings, and beyond.

Although the work of a nurse midwife and a women’s health nurse practitioner are different, the roles have a lot of complementary responsibilities and shared knowledge. Dual programs will reflect this. So, you can expect to take equal amounts of courses whether you pursue a women’s health nurse practitioner program or a certified nurse midwifery program.

In addition to making an impact on women’s health, your CNM/WHNP degree may lead to lucrative roles. In the 2019 National Nurse Practitioner Sample Survey by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, full-time WHNPs were reported to have earned on average a total income of $110,000.

What to Expect from a CNM/WHNP Program

Because the curriculum of CNM and WHNP programs are largely related to one another, the dual master’s program covers many core areas that would typically be covered in both, including clinical pharmacology, physiology and pathophysiology, the ethics of healthcare, health assessment, medical research guidelines, and more. However, the combined program goes even further, offering specialized instruction in women’s reproductive health, primary care of women, intrapartum and postpartum care, newborn care, and more. 

Education Requirements

Those interested in enrolling in a dual CNM/WHNP master’s degree program must meet specific academic and experiential requirements. While different programs require students to meet different standards for admission, many are expected to have at a minimum: 

  • Current Registered Nurse (RN) license
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited institution

In addition, many programs seek candidates who demonstrate a specific interest in women’s health and other related aspects of the dual degree. Many programs also aim to enroll students who exhibit a consistent record of academic and professional achievement. As such, these programs may require the following:

  • Minimum undergraduate GPA 
  • Minimum GRE score
  • Professional nursing experience
  • Letters of recommendation

It’s best to check with the admissions office of your desired university and program to confirm admissions requirements.

Curriculum 

The core curriculum in a dual CNM/WHNP master’s degree program combines essential elements including coursework in:

  • Advanced patient health assessment
  • Medical ethics
  • Clinical trials and research
  • Clinical pharmacology
  • Physiology and pathophysiology
  • Women’s health and prenatal care 

With an emphasis not only on expectant and new mothers but also their newborns, those who complete their CNM/WHNP dual degrees may expect to gain comprehensive, in-depth knowledge on primary care for women and reproductive health. The curriculum prepares nurses to provide care to women throughout the different stages of their lives and to newborns.

Program Accreditation

Nurse-midwifery programs in the United States are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME). Students hoping to receive a credential in this discipline need to graduate from an ACME-accredited program and sit for the CNM exam administered by the American Midwifery Association.

Nurses enrolled in a CNM/WHNP dual degree program accredited by ACME may also sit for the Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) exam administered by the National Certification Corporation.

FAQs

Here are some questions and well-researched answers to help guide you through your search for a dual degree program that aligns with your career ambitions:

What is a dual degree program?

Dual degree programs in nursing, like the CNM/WHNP Master of Science in Nursing, offer nurses the opportunity to learn and specialize in complementary areas of the healthcare field. Because dual degrees require additional coursework for completion, they’re generally considered more rigorous and therefore more competitive. 

Is a CNM/WHNP degree worth it?

Because dual degree programs require a broader range of coursework , they may be recognized for their rigor and depth—and those with dual degrees may have higher earning potential in the job market. Moreover, the CNM/WHNP degree is an option for nursing students interested in women’s health and reproductive care. If you’re hoping to support women’s health and wellbeing as an RN, this dual degree offers relevant knowledge, skills and credentials that can help you achieve that goal. 

How long is a CNM/WHNP program?  

Dual degrees like the CNM/WHNP program require students to cover more coursework and invest more time than is required by a standard Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). Typically, a combined CNM/WHNP program takes a little over a year to two years for nurses to complete. However, students who choose to attend a part-time program or a program with flexible hours may take up to three years or more to earn their dual degree. While coursework for an online program can be completed online, students must satisfy the in-person clinical requirements as well.  

What is the cost of a CNM/WHNP program?

The cost differs from program to program based on various factors like the school, location, delivery method, and length of the program. Because programs have varying credit requirements, the best way to assess cost is on a program-by-program basis. Nurses may also be eligible for financial assistance, depending on their financial circumstances and other factors such as demographic and academic performance.

What is the difference between WHNP and CNM?

A women’s health nurse practitioner provides women with primary care services throughout the course of their lives, from adolescence through adulthood. Whether they’re treating women with chronic illness, providing gynecological services or tending to the primary care of their patients, WHNPs can provide personalized care for women. Certified nurse midwives also focus on women but have a specific emphasis on prenatal care, childbirth, and the care of newborn babies. While WHNPs often treat women with and without chronic and acute illnesses, CNMs generally treat women in various stages of maternity.

Information on this page was retrieved in June 2020.