What Is a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
Why Is a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Important?
What Does a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Do?
- Adolescent health care.
- Well-woman exams, including pelvic exams and Pap smears.
- Breast cancer screening/mammograms (and support if a diagnosis is made).
- HPV and sexually transmitted infection screening, treatment and follow-up.
- Health and wellness counseling.
- Contraceptive care.
- Pregnancy testing.
- Miscarriage care and support.
- Preconception health, prenatal visits and postpartum care.
- Concerns about menses and menarche.
- Fertility evaluations.
- Urinary tract problems, such as incontinence or infections.
- Menopause-related health and management.
- Screening for heart disease, hypertension and diabetes and offering referrals and support when a condition is identified.
How To Become a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
WHNP Education Requirements
- Earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing and become a registered nurse. Required coursework focuses heavily on science-related topics, including physiology, microbiology, psychology/mental health, pharmacology and neonatal health. Alternatively, some programs, such as RN to MSN programs, offer bridge coursework that allow students with an associate’s degree in nursing to enter the program.
- Complete a master’s degree in nursing or a doctor of nursing practice degree through an accredited nursing program. Coursework includes primary care, prenatal and postpartum care, preventive and general wellness, and reproductive health care.
WHNP Examination, Licensure and Certification
- Pass a national certification exam through the National Certification Corporation for women’s health nurse practitioners. Eligibility requirements: In order to be eligible to take the exam, a nurse must be an RN and have earned an MSN or DNP through an accredited women’s health care nurse practitioner program. The program must be sponsored by or affiliated with a college or university. At least 200 didactic (teaching) hours and 600 clinical hours specifically related to women’s health care are required. The certification process includes the option to take a written test that covers knowledge of primary care, gynecology and obstetrics care for women. It is offered once a year in September, or a computer-based exam is available year-round. Fees: $325, which includes a $50 nonrefundable application fee and a $275 testing fee. License renewal is required every three years and requires a $100 fee and 45 continuing education hours. Once certified, a nurse uses the acronym WHNP-BC, where the “BC” stands for board certified.
- Understand your state’s laws and regulations regarding the scope of WHNP practice and required state licensing exams.