What Does a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner Do?

Nurse practitioners are registered nurses with advanced education and training. They provide primary care in specialized areas such as women's health, family practice, and geriatrics. Keep reading to learn about the education and certification requirements, and the job outlook for this career. Schools offering Family Nurse Practitioner degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Description

In general, women's health nurse practitioners focus on reproductive health and the prevention or treatment of diseases that are specific to women. Prenatal care, postpartum care, guidance for menopause, wellness and preventative care, treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, and family planning are just some of the areas a nurse practitioner might cover. Each state's board of nursing regulates the specific duties of a women's health nurse practitioner. For instance, some states give nurse practitioners the authority to prescribe medications without consulting a physician, while some states require a physician's signature. Nurse practitioners can order diagnostics tests and interpret lab results.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Similar Occupations Advanced Registered Nurse, Clinical Nurse Manager, Charge Nurse
Key Skills Labor/birthing, case management, and gynecological skills
On-the-Job Training Supervised clinical work is required for registered nurses
Work Environment Physicians' offices, outpatient centers, hospitals and clinics

Education

The road to becoming a women's health nurse practitioner begins by first becoming a registered nurse (RN). RNs can complete a two-year degree program in nursing and then pass the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse exam. RN's who plan on becoming nurse practitioners must obtain a bachelor's degree to continue into a graduate level program. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is one possible undergraduate degree that serves as a stepping stone to the MSN, which is required to work in an advanced practice nursing career, like nurse practitioner.

In an MSN program, students can choose the nurse practitioner specialization. Women's health is one possible focus within this field; many of the colleges and universities with nurse practitioner programs offer the women's health specialization.

Certification

Several organizations offer certification for women's health nurse practitioners. One example is the National Certification Corporation (NCC), which administers a Women's Health Care Nurse Practitioner certification exam. To be eligible for the exam, you must be an RN and have completed a graduate-level nurse practitioner program in women's health. Candidates for certification are tested in six major areas including obstetrics, gynecology, and pharmacology. Women's health nurse practitioners should contact their state board of nursing to find out what certifying organizations are recognized by their state. Some agencies that certify women's health nurse practitioners include:

  • American College of Nurse Midwives Certification Council
  • American Nurses' Credentialing Center
  • American Holistic Nurses Certification Corporation
  • American Academy of Nurse Practitioners

Licensure

Each state has its own licensure procedure for women's health nurse practitioners. Regulations vary from state to state, with many states requiring nurse practitioners to obtain national certification before applying for licensure.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to PayScale.com, the majority of women's health nurse practitioners earned between $66,519 and $103,881 a year, as of September 2015. Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) does not provide information specific to the field of nurse practitioners, the BLS did project that the employment of registered nurses will likely grow by 19% between 2012 and 2022.

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