Women's Health Care Nurse Practitioner

A women’s health nurse practitioner is a nurse with a master’s degree or doctoral degree who focuses on providing healthcare for women of all ages and stages of life. Women’s health nurse practitioners (WHNP) can work in a variety of women’s health specialties, or can work in a primary care setting. Women’s health nurse practitioners focus not just on women’s health, but are also often supporters of women’s rights and women making their own choices in healthcare. They want to ensure that a women’s right to make those decisions about their healthcare, considering their personal, cultural and spiritual and beliefs, are not overlooked.

Women’s health nurse practitioners are registered nurses (RN) who have their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited nursing school, and continue on to earn their Master’s of Science in Nursing degree (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) with a specialization in women’s health. A women’s health nurse practitioner works closely with physicians, but can independently be a patient’s primary care provider. Women’s health nurse practitioners perform many of the typical nursing duties, such as obtaining medical histories, examining patients, and ordering and performing tests. However, due to their advanced training, they can diagnose, plan treatment, and even prescribe medication. They may find work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, hospice centers, physicians offices, schools or college clinics, walk-in clinics, nursing homes, or private nurse practitioner offices. Becoming a nurse practitioner focused on women’s health will involve providing contraceptive care, gynecological care, care during and after menopause, pregnancy testing and prenatal care, midwifery, and overall health and wellness visits for women of all ages.

Earning your women’s health nurse practitioner certification or Women's Health Care Nurse Practitioner Credential (WHNP-BC) is a good career move. Certification in nursing for specific specialties is unlike licensing, in that it is not required by all states, certification is often voluntary. However, certification serves the same purpose as licensure does in that it serves to protect the public and prove the credentials and training of the nursing professional. Earning your Women's Health Care Nurse Practitioner Credential (WHNP-BC) demonstrates to potential employers that you are qualified according to the current industry standards, and are committed to your profession. Certification is usually provided by a professional organization in the field. The National Certification Corporation offers a WHNP certification or credential. In order to take this exam, you have to have graduated from a master’s, post-master’s or Doctor of Nursing Practice nurse practitioner program with a focus on women’s health.

The National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health (NPWH), founded in 1980, is one professional resource you can utilize or join while working in the women’s health nurse practitioner specialty, both to network and to keep in touch with developments in the field. It also offers many opportunities for continuing education, on topics such as hormone therapy, cervical cancer, intrauterine contraception, and abnormal uterine bleeding, to name just a few health topics that a WHNP would encounter.

According to payscale.com, the average salary for a WHNP is $68,093 to $85,766. The projection for nurse practitioners working in women’s health is excellent. The role that nurses with additional training will play in the growing healthcare sector is rapidly growing, as they provide quality healthcare that is cost-effective. Get started now researching your education and certification if you think this rewarding path of serving the healthcare needs women is for you. The educational road is longer than that of a typical RN, but the pay, job duties, and rewards will grow with that commitment.

(Sources: The National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health, National Certification Corporation - Women's Health Care Nurse Practitioner Credential)

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