If you’re a student considering a career as a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP), it’s important to do your research and find the program that’s best for you. Many different programs are available, so how do you know which one is the right fit? Read on to learn what to look for and how to choose a WHNP program that will meet your needs.
To get an insider’s perspective, we met with Dr. Brian Keintz and Dr. Lawren Mundy. Dr. Mundy has been a Woman’s Health Nurse Practitioner for over 18 years and provided much of the valuable insight you’ll find in this article. Dr. Keintz is a Dean at Keiser University with over 30 years of education experience.
Difference Between WHNP and Gynecologist
You may wonder what the difference is between a WHNP and an Obstetrician/Gynecologist. While WHNPs and gynecologists both provide much of the same care to women, there are some differences between these two roles. The kind of care they provide may influence your decision about the type of program you pursue.
WHNPs are licensed as Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) and have additional training in women’s health issues. They provide comprehensive care for women of all ages and may focus on reproductive health, pregnancy, menopause, health promotion, disease prevention, the management of chronic conditions, and perform in office gynecology procedures. While WHNPs don’t deliver babies, they generally have a broader scope of practice than obstetrician/gynecologists, meaning they can provide more comprehensive care to their patients. In addition, WHNPs are trained to provide emotional support to their patients, which can be especially beneficial for women experiencing reproductive issues.
Obstetrician/Gynecologists (OB/GYNs), on the other hand, are medical doctors who have completed a residency in obstetrics and gynecology. OBGYNs provide routine and specialized care, including Pap smears, contraception counseling, and cancer screenings. They typically focus on the medical aspects of care, such as surgical procedures, and may not always be able to provide the same level of emotional support as WHNPs.
OB/GYNs have more extensive medical knowledge than WHNPs. However, WHNPs often have more time to spend with patients and may be better able to develop relationships with them. In addition, WHNPs may be more likely to take a holistic approach to care, while GYNs tend to focus on treating specific medical problems. Ultimately, both WHNPs and OB/GYNs play an essential role in women’s health care.
What Is a WHNP Program?
A WHNP program is a post-graduate degree program that prepares registered nurses to care for women across their lifespan. Most programs are about two years in length, and graduates are eligible to sit for the national certification exam.
WHNP programs prepare nurses to take on advanced practice roles in women’s health. Many programs offer the chance for students to specialize in a specific area of women’s health, such as a midwife or OB/GYN nurse practitioner.
There are two components to a WHNP program: coursework and clinicals. The coursework will vary depending on the chosen specialty but should explore advanced pathophysiology, pharmacology, and health screening. The preceptorship should provide the student with real-world experience in their specialty.
Upon completion of a WHNP program, you should be able to:
- Obtain a gynecologic history from your patients
- Identify women’s health issues
- Provide support for family planning, fertility control, and prenatal and postpartum care for women of all ages
- Advocate health initiatives for women at the local, state, and national level
- Collaborate with other healthcare providers in order to achieve better patient outcomes
- Perform in office gynecology procedures
Upon completion of a WHNP program, you’ll be eligible to take the Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Certification Exam, which the National Certification Corporation administers. Once you pass this exam, you’ll be officially certified as a WHNP!
Can an NP Work in Women’s Health?
Women’s health is one of the many areas in which NPs can work. Women’s health includes both the physical and mental health of women at all stages of life, from adolescence through menopause. NPs who work in women’s health provide preventive care, screenings, and education on various topics, including contraception, sexually transmitted infections, breast and gynecological cancer, and menopause. In addition, they are often involved in assisting with fertility treatments and providing care during pregnancy and childbirth. NPs specializing in women’s health play a vital role in ensuring women stay healthy throughout their lives.
WHNP Program Prerequisites
To be accepted into a women’s health nurse practitioner program, a few prerequisites must be met. First and foremost, applicants must have a bachelor’s in nursing (BSN) and a valid RN license. This typically requires completing an accredited nursing program and passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Once you have your RN license, you’ll need to gain experience working in a women’s health care setting. Once you have both an RN license and significant women’s health experience, you can apply to a WHNP program. This will allow you to learn more about women’s unique health care needs and develop the clinical skills needed to provide high-quality care.
What to Look for in a WHNP Program
When choosing a WHNP program, it is vital to consider the curriculum and clinical training opportunities. The ideal program will prepare students for the full scope of women’s health care, from primary care to pregnancy to menopause. Students should also have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience through clinicals. Other factors to consider include program accreditation and cost. By taking the time to research different programs, you can choose the one that best meets your needs.
When it comes to finding a quality WHNP program, there are several things to look for in the curriculum. First and foremost, the program should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Additionally, the curriculum should be designed to prepare students for the national certification examination offered by the National Certification Corporation. The program should provide a diverse range of coursework that covers all aspects of women’s health care, including gynecologic care, pregnancy risk management, family planning, STI diagnosis and treatments, and primary care for women.
A clinical hour for a women’s health nurse practitioner (WHNP) is an hour spent providing direct patient care services. These services can include primary care, gynecologic care, family planning services, and well-woman visits. WHNPs may also provide supplemental care, such as sexually transmitted infection screenings and menopausal management counseling. The clinical hours for a WHNP can be completed in various settings, such as hospitals, clinics, private practices, and community health centers. In most cases, WHNPs will work alongside other healthcare providers, such as physicians, certified nurse midwives, and physician assistants. Dr. Lawren Mundy shared that the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health requires 600 clinical hours to qualify for certification, but that amount will probably increase in the near future.
The field of public health is rapidly expanding to meet the needs of a changing world. As a result, some WHNP programs now offer international clinical experiences for their students. These opportunities provide invaluable experience working with diverse populations and allow students to see how different cultures approach public health issues. Additionally, international clinical experiences can help students to develop language skills and cross-cultural competence. For students who are interested in pursuing a career in public health, international clinical hours are an excellent way to gain experience and build their skillset.
A quality WHNP program will help students find placement for clinical hours. Clinicals are an essential part of any WHNP program, and it is crucial that students have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a variety of settings. A good program will work with students to identify potential placement options and provide assistance with the application process. In addition, a quality program will also offer guidance on how to make the most of clinical hours by helping students choose rotations that align with their interests and career goals.
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a WHNP program is the length. On average, WHNP programs take about two years to complete. However, some programs may be shorter or longer depending on the specific curriculum. If you’re looking for a shorter program, you may want to consider an online or accelerated program. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a more comprehensive education, you may want to choose a program that takes longer to complete. Ultimately, the right program length for you will depend on your specific goals and objectives.
Another important factor to consider when choosing a WHNP program is location. Depending on your desired lifestyle and career goals, you may prefer a rural or urban setting. For example, if you want to work in a small town or rural community, you may want to choose a program located in a rural area. This will allow you to get hands-on experience working with patients in a small-town setting. Alternatively, you may be interested in working in a large city. In that case, you may want to choose an urban-based WHNP program to gain exposure to the diverse patient population and healthcare facilities characteristic of a large city. You will also need to consider how close the school is to your current location – are you ready for a move? What about being far away from family? These are important location factors to consider when researching programs.
Online WHNP Programs
Suppose you lack the time or opportunity to attend a traditional brick-and-mortar school. Luckily, many online nursing programs can provide the same high-quality education as a conventional, in-person program. An online program may be the perfect solution for those interested in pursuing a career in nursing. These online programs offer the same rigorous coursework as a traditional program but allow students to complete their studies at their own pace and from the comfort of their homes. Online nursing programs should offer the same clinical rotation opportunities as traditional programs, giving students the chance to gain real-world experience. In addition, online programs typically offer the same accreditation as conventional nursing programs, ensuring that graduates will be eligible for licensure and employment.
Board Certification (WHNP-BC)
Becoming a women’s health nurse practitioner (WHNP) requires passing a national board certification exam after completing an accredited graduate-level program. Several organizations offer WHNP board certification, each with its own eligibility requirements and exam process. The most common organization is the National Certification Corporation (NCC). In addition to completing an accredited program and passing a national board certification exam, WHNPs must also obtain state licensure in order to practice. Although licensure requirements vary by state, most states require WHNPs to have a current RN license and pass an additional state-specific exam. Some states may also require WHNPs to complete continuing education credits on a regular basis to maintain their license.
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Salary
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for nurse practitioners is $123,780 per year. The BLS projects a growth rate of 40% from 2021-2031, much faster than the average for all jobs. WHNP graduates can pursue roles such as:
- Gynecological NP
- Women’s health nurse practitioner
- Advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP)
- Nursing supervisor
- Nursing instructor
- And more!
Start Your WHNP Career at Keiser
The Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner program at Keiser University prepares nurses to provide quality healthcare that considers women’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs throughout their lifetime, with particular consideration for those disadvantaged by gender or sexual health inequality. Our MSN in Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner is aligned with National Association of Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner guidelines and accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
If you are ready to collaborate with a healthcare team to provide quality women’s care and advocate for improvements to women’s health at all governmental levels, contact Keiser University today to learn more about our WHNP program!