How Can I Become a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner?
Research what it takes to become a women's health nurse practitioner. Learn about education, licensing requirements, job duties and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Family Nurse Practitioner degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What Is A Women's Health Nurse Practitioner?
Women's health nurse practitioners are nurse practitioners that have specialized in the field of women's health. As nurse practitioners they must have a master's degree and meet the licensing requirements to see patients without being supervised by a physician. They may work in medical offices or hospitals, and as part of their duties they will review a patient's chart, prescribe tests, assess the patient's condition, diagnose the patient and prescribe treatment. Women's health nurse practitioners specifically focus on the medical care needed by women, and are experts in how a woman's body develops and medical conditions that women may be affected by. They need to be aware of the latest approved treatments for conditions that affect women, and they may also collaborate with physicians or other medical professionals on some patients.
|Degree Required||Master's degree|
|Education Field of Study||Nursing|
|Key Responsibilities||Examine patients; evaluate and diagnose medical conditions in women; order and perform diagnostic testing and analyze results; prescribe medication and treatments|
|Licensure or Certification||All states require registered nurses to be licensed; board certification for women's health care nurse practitioners is available|
|Job Growth (2014-2024)||35% for all nurse practitioners*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$98,190 for all nurse practitioners*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
What Would I Do as a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner?
As a women's health nurse practitioner (WHNP), you would use your graduate-level education to provide medical care in the field of women's health. You would perform physical evaluations, make diagnoses and administer medication. With a specialization in women's health, you would provide care for women at all stages of their lives, diagnosing and treating reproductive and female-specific ailments. You might work in a hospital, private practice, public health institution, family planning agency or other healthcare setting.
What Education Do I Need?
Nurse practitioners, by definition, have completed a master's program to further specialize their knowledge. However, you'll need to begin your nursing education with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program to meet prerequisites for entry into graduate studies. In a BSN program, you'll study in classrooms and at clinical sites to learn the fundamentals of nursing and gain experience in real-world settings. After completing a BSN program, you'll need to take the licensing exam to become a registered nurse (RN) to legally work in the U.S.
With your RN license in hand, you can apply to a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program. Nursing programs at the master's level focus on specific areas of healthcare, so you should choose a program in women's health nursing studies. MSN programs also combine classroom learning with clinical experience, so you should be prepared to begin entry-level primary care work in the women's health field.
What License or Certification Do I Need?
To work as a registered nurse in the U.S., you need to pass the National Council of States Boards of Nursing's National Council Licensure Examination (www.ncsbn.org). The test is accepted by every state, but there may be additional requirements or regulations in your state, so be sure to check with your state's board of nursing.
You also might choose to pursue voluntary certification. The National Certification Corporation offers a Women's Healthcare Nurse Practitioner designation, which you can test for with an active RN license and completion of a nurse practitioner program in women's health (www.nccwebsite.org).
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
Family nurse practitioners, pediatric nurse practitioners, physician assistants and registered nurses are all highly trained medical professionals who may be involved in the development of a treatment plan for patients. Registered nurses need a bachelor's degree, but all nurse practitioners and physician assistants need a master's degree. Family nurse practitioners and pediatric nurse practitioners have some specific overlap with women's health nurse practitioners in their specializations. Pediatric nurse practitioners focus on the medical treatment of children, and must be familiar with the development of a young girl's body and common medical ailments that may affect them. Family nurse practitioners may also be involved in providing medical care for women. Pediatric nurse practitioners, family nurse practitioners and physician assistants are all involved in assessing patients, diagnosing them and prescribing treatments. Registered nurses work under the supervision of these professionals to implement the patient care plan.
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