A women’s health nurse practitioner focuses on the healthcare needs of women. Nursing candidates interested in gynecological, obstetric, and reproductive health can pursue a career in this nursing specialty. This guide provides you with all the information you need to get started on your career as a women’s health nurse practitioner.
- What is a women’s health nurse practitioner?
- What are the job duties of a women’s health nurse practitioner?
- What are the steps to becoming a women’s health nurse practitioner?
- How much does a women’s health practitioner make?
- What is the job outlook for women’s health practitioners?
What is a women’s health nurse practitioner (WHNP)?
A women’s health nurse practitioner assesses, diagnoses, and treats women for gynecological, obstetric, and reproductive issues. This position has some similarities with Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM). One of the main differences between the two is that WHNPs do not direct as much time to fertility issues and newborn delivery as CNMs. WHNPs focus on preventative care like annual exams, breast cancer screenings, and contraceptive care. They also handle pregnancy testing, fertility evaluations, prenatal and postnatal care, and menopausal care.
WHNPs specialized training qualifies them to work in the following settings:
- Obstetrics and gynecology physician offices
- Private doctor’s offices
- Infertility clinics
- Birthing centers
- Breast care clinics
- Gynecological oncology units
- Specialty care clinics
- Urogynecology clinics and care centers
- Women’s wellness clinics
What are the job duties of a women’s health nurse practitioner?
WHNPs meet the healthcare needs of the 330 million women in the U.S. Depending on which healthcare setting they work in, a women’s health nurse practitioner has several job duties. Among the most common are:
- Assisting OB GYNS during surgical procedures
- Collaborating with other health professionals
- Conducting annual well-woman exams and pap smears
- Designing treatment plans for women’s health conditions
- Diagnostic screenings for breast, cervical, and ovarian cancers; female infertility hormonal issues (including menopause); and ovarian cysts
- Educating women about birth control options
- Preparing patients for medical procedures and surgeries
- Prescribing contraceptives and other medications
- Providing prenatal and postnatal care
- Providing post-surgical care
This is just a sampling of the duties included in the scope of practice for WHNPs. It is important to check with hiring managers to ensure job duties required for a job are clear.
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What are the steps to becoming a women’s health nurse practitioner?
Becoming a women’s health nurse practitioner requires patience and dedication. There are several steps in your journey:
1. Earn a nursing degree
You must become a licensed Registered Nurse (RN) before you can take the next steps to become a women’s health nurse practitioner. Earning your RN requires a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Alternatively, nursing professionals who already hold an associate degree in nursing (ADN) can enter an accelerated RN to MSN program that allows them to earn a BSN and a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) simultaneously.
2. Pass the NCLEX-RN exam
Regardless of which degree program you choose, the next step is becoming a licensed RN passing the NCLEX-RN exam.
3. Gain experience and continuing education
Once you have your RN license, you have two choices: gain some work experience as an RN or continue toward earning a MSN degree.
4. Earn your certification
The final step before you can begin your career as a WHNP is to earn your certification. The National Certification Corporation is the credentialing organization for WHNPs. To qualify for the exam, WHNP candidates must meet the following criteria:
- Hold a current RN licensure
- Complete an accredited graduate nurse practitioner program that meets all NCC program requirements
- Schedule the exam within 8 years of your graduation date
Once you complete these four steps, you can begin searching for job openings for women’s health nurse practitioners.
How much does a women’s health nurse practitioner make?
Women’s health nurse practitioners, like most nurse practitioner specialties, are well paid. According to Payscale, the average annual salary for WHNPs is $94,493. Women’s health nurse practitioners with less than a year of experience can expect to earn an $87,134 base salary. WHNPs earned the highest annual salaries in the following cities, according to data provided by ZipRecruiter:
- San Mateo, CA – $122,297
- Juneau, AK – $119,637
- Boston, MA – $119,460
- Santa Monica, CA – $117,980
- Quincy, MA – $117,879
In addition to base salary, full-time and part-time women’s health nurse practitioners enjoy additional benefits. The perks include (but are not limited to) continuing education reimbursement, dental and health insurance coverage, holiday pay, paid time off, and relocation assistance.
What is the job outlook for women’s health nurse practitioners?
The demand for qualified WHNPs continues to grow due to the nationwide nursing shortage and an emphasis on preventative healthcare services. Job outlook predictions from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate the demand for WHNPs will increase by 45% between now and 2029. That is much higher than the average annual growth rate for other professions during the same period.
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