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How To Become A Women's Health Nurse Practitioner

A women's health nurse practitioner (WHNP) is a qualified nurse practitioner who focuses on female health issues.

If that sounds like the perfect profession for you, keep reading. We'll show you what you need to do to become a WHNP.

What Does a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner Do?

Women's health nurse practitioners take care of women throughout their lives and deal with a range of issues along the way. Their duties vary based on their experience and workplace, but they may include:

  • Assisting with gynecological health
  • Education women on birth control
  • Prescribing contraceptives (including implanted devices) and other medications
  • Performing fertility evaluations
  • Providing preventative care
  • Designing and implementing treatment plans
  • Helping women through the perinatal period
  • Helping women to deal with the menopause
  • Collaborating with a healthcare team
  • Screening for domestic violence
  • Assisting in cases of substance abuse
  • Monitoring patients for high-risk behaviors
  • Prepping patients for surgical procedures

Does a WHNP Do The Same Work as a CNM?

Women's health NPs are less specialized than certified nurse midwives (CNM) and deal with more general women's health issues. They perform some similar duties and assist with pregnancy health, but this only constitutes a small part of their role.

Where Does a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner Work?

Women's health NPs can work in any healthcare setting that deals with women's health, whether specifically or generally, including:

  • Hospitals
  • Family planning clinics
  • Primary care clinics
  • Planned Parenthood
  • Urgent care centers
  • Student health clinics
  • Educational settings
  • OB/GYN Clinics
  • Fertility clinics
  • Private practices
  • Correctional institutions

How to Become a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner

Follow these steps to become a women's health nurse practitioner:

Step One: Attend an Accredited Nursing School

The first step to becoming a women's health nurse practitioner is to enroll in a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program. These programs are offered by over 2,600 accredited nursing schools across the United States.

All nursing schools have specific requirements relating to GPA scores, passing subjects, and more.

During your BSN, you'll learn about general healthcare and nursing. It will endeavor to improve your critical thinking skills and teach you how to diagnose and treat patients with a range of conditions. Women's health will be addressed, but the specialty work comes much later.

It takes about 4 years to complete a bachelor's degree in nursing.

Step Two: Become a Registered Nurse

After graduating, you can sit the NCLEX-RN exam. It costs $200 and is a computer-adaptive test, which means that the total length and number of questions are dependent on how well you do.

Upon completing the NCLEX-RN, you will become a licensed registered nurse.

Step Three: Gain Some Experience

As the NCLEX is a nationally recognized certification, you'll be able to work in healthcare organizations across the United States.

At this point in your journey, you should put that license to use and earn some experience.

Any type of nursing experience will help, but ideally, it should focus on women's health. For instance, you could apply to work in a women's health clinic or an OB/GYN office.

The more relevant your experience, the easier it will be to get a job as a women's health nurse practitioner when the time comes.

Step Four: Complete a Master's Degree

Women's health nurse practitioners are expected to complete postgraduate degrees, so you'll need a master's degree before going any further.

This degree will expand on what you learn during your BSN while focusing more on women's health.

You can find women's health nursing programs across the United States and there are offline, online, and hybrid programs available. These programs usually take 2 years to complete, but accelerated programs can be completed in just 18 months.

Step Five: Become Certified

When you finish your MSN program, you must become certified by the National Certification Corporation (NCC).

The NCC offers the Women's Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP-BC) certification to all advanced practice registered nurses (APRN), providing they graduated within the last 8 years.

Step Six: Find Work as a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner

The only thing left to do is get out there and find some work.

It's a long and difficult journey to reach this point, but women's health nurse practitioners earn an attractive salary, have numerous employee benefits, and get to work in a very challenging but rewarding industry.

Can An FNP Work In Women's Health?

Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) work with a broad range of patients and diseases and have many of the same duties and responsibilities as WHNPs. The difference is that they also work with men and children.

If you want to work in reproductive health, gynecological health, and female fertility, but you also want to assist children, men, and much older adults, consider training to become an FNP.

What is the Outlook for Women's Health Nurse Practitioners?

The general need for nurse practitioners is high, with an anticipated growth of 28% between 2018 and 2028.

Women's health nurses in particular are in demand. The female population of the United States is growing at a rate of nearly 1% per year, and while there are a lot of nursing students graduating from nursing programs every year, there are just as many retiring, either because their time is up or because they have burnt out (a common problem in the nursing profession).

Many industries in the US will become saturated with employees within the next decade or so, and that's bad news for students preparing to spend the next 5 to 10 years studying toward an uncertain career. However, nursing is definitely not one of those professions and the need will likely remain for generations to come.

How Much Do Women's Health Nurse Practitioners Make?

The median average salary for nurse practitioners in the United States is $111,680, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The BLS does not differentiate between nurse practitioners and women's health nurse practitioners, but the table below will give you an idea of how much you can expect to earn in this profession.

StateHourly WageAnnual SalaryEmployment
District of Columbia$55.67$115,790860
New Hampshire$53.58$111,4401060
New Jersey$59.12$122,9705800
New Mexico$55.68$115,8101080
New York$59.62$124,02014850
North Carolina$51.33$106,7706040
North Dakota$52.59$109,380690
Rhode Island$56.46$117,440690
South Carolina$47.57$98,9402820
South Dakota$49.34$102,620590
West Virginia$48.12$100,0801200

Summary: Becoming a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP)

Women's health nurse practitioners are highly skilled nurses who work with a range of health conditions and assist women of all ages and from various backgrounds.

If you are understanding, caring, hard-working, and wish to help women with everything from reproductive health to healthcare education, consider a career as a women's health nurse.

find nursing schools near you

find nursing schools near you