Women’s Health Nurse Practitioners (WHNPs) are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who care for the well-being of women. Women have unique healthcare needs, and they require care from health professionals who specialize in addressing the nuances of women’s health challenges.
Women’s Health NPs are experts in providing care for those needs and supporting women throughout the milestones of life, from adolescence to menopause and beyond. These practitioners also support women through all the different stages of pregnancy, although nurse-midwives are more focused on the different aspects of childbirth, including pre- and post-partum.
A registered nurse must first earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) before they can enroll in a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner program. Nurses can study to become WHNPs through a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. Depending on what they want to do with their careers, they might also pursue Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) to take on more of a leadership role in the future.
Students must also pass the board certification exam conducted by the National Certification Corporation (NCC). This exam covers:
- Primary care
Practitioners are typically required to become certified in the state they work in as well. WHNPs must renew their certifications every three years and complete continuing education units (CEUs) to stay up to date with emerging trends in preventive care. This continued education ensures that they are always learning new ways of delivering the best possible outcomes for women patients.
Women’s Health NPs can work in almost any healthcare setting. What separates WHNPs from other practitioners, however, is their specialty in women’s healthcare. This difference often places WHNPs in settings that have a specific focus in women’s care. These settings include:
- OB/GYN clinics
- Family planning clinics
- Planned Parenthood clinics
- Women’s health clinics
- Prenatal clinics
- Women’s prisons
There is no single job that defines the Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. Some diagnose and treat illnesses in women; others advise women on how to plan, manage and recover from pregnancy.
WHNPs are included with other Advanced Practice Registered Nurses like nurse-midwives and nurse anesthetists. APRNs earned a median salary of $107,460 in 2016, which is $51.67 an hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The top 10 percent of Advanced Practice RNs earned $175,170, and the bottom 10 percent earned $74,300.
The BLS also reports that the number of APRN jobs in the US in 2016 was approximately 203,800, and that number is projected to grow by 31 percent from 2016 to 2026. This growth is much faster than the average for all other occupations in the US.
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioners, like other APRNs, are needed to help administer preventive care for the growing population of baby boomers in the U.S., who are experiencing growing needs for treatment. Women’s healthcare needs become greater in quantity and more complicated in nature as they age, and WHNPs need to be there to help them live healthy lives.
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