Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Career Overview

by NurseJournal Staff
• 6 min read
Reviewed by Elizabeth Clarke, FNP, MSN, RN, MSSW

What is a women's health nurse practitioner (WHNP)? A WHNP cares for women of all ages, typically focusing on obstetrics and gynecology along with primary care.

Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Career Overview

Women's Health Nurse Practitioner Career in Brief

msn or dnp required
certification option

A WHNP provides primary or OB/GYN care for adult women. These NPs may also collaborate with healthcare teams, including physicians, and oversee nurses and nursing assistants.

WHNP jobs generally consist of the following:

Primary Responsibilities

  • Diagnosing and treating conditions
  • Educating women on preventative health
  • Ordering tests and conducting healthcare screenings
  • Treating fertility-related conditions
  • Providing contraception advice and prescriptions
  • Caring for pregnant patients
  • Treating conditions related to menopause

Career Traits

  • Communication skills
  • Empathy
  • Desire to learn
  • Strong leadership

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Where Do Women's Health Nurse Practitioners Work?

Most women's health NPs are employed at private practices, but they may work in any healthcare setting that treats women. Below are common job environments for WHNPs.

  • Private Group Practices

    WHNPs act as the primary care provider, educate women on preventative care, diagnose and treat conditions related to fertility or menopause, and collaborate with healthcare teams.

  • Community Health Centers

    WHNPs teach women about reproductive health, promote preventative care, provide prenatal care, and offer medical advice on fertility issues and contraception.

  • Fertility Clinics

    WHNPs perform initial consultation with patients, order tests, and develop treatment plans. They also stay up-to-date on fertility options and procedures.

Why Become a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner?

Women's health nurse practitioner jobs can be emotionally rewarding, allowing NPs to make a difference in their patients' lives. In addition, WHNP salaries are considerably higher than the national average. Some women's health NPs, however, face burnout from working long hours and caring for patients who have experienced trauma. Read on for more pros and cons of becoming a WHNP.

Advantages


Women's health NPs enjoy high levels of professional autonomy. The job can be emotionally rewarding and transform patients' lives. Women's health nurse practitioner salaries are higher than the U.S. average. Practitioners can develop a specialty.

Disadvantages


Some WHNP programs are being phased out or removed in preference for clinical nurse midwife tracts. The required training and education is very demanding. WHNPs can experience high levels of burnout and compassion fatigue, especially since the job brings practitioners in frequent contact with women who have experienced domestic abuse or violence. OB/GYN care faces a higher risk of lawsuits than other practice areas.

How to Become a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner

Earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN)
An ADN takes two years to complete and the BSN lasts four years. While many master of science in nursing (MSN)-NP programs require a BSN, some schools offer bridge programs for students who do not hold a BSN.

Pass the NCLEX-RN to receive RN licensure
This six-hour, computer adaptive exam covers nursing practices, medical conditions and care, the healthcare system, communications, and ethical/legal issues.

Complete an MSN or a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) with a specialty in women’s health.
Most MSN programs are two years long, while DNP programs generally require three years of study. Specialty courses include women’s anatomy, fertility, and health issues. However, graduate programs typically require 1-2 years of RN experience before admission.

Consider pursuing board certification as a women’s health nurse practitioner.
The examination for this certification takes approximately three hours. Test-takers must hold an unencumbered nursing license and a degree from an accredited MSN or DNP program.

How Much Do Women's Health Nurse Practitioners Make?

The median annual base salary for women's health NPs in 2019 was $110,000, and the total compensation reached $115,000. Women's health nurse practitioner salaries vary considerably by workplace, with those employed in hospitals earning the most. Compensation is also dependent on region, reflecting each area's cost of living.

Advanced practice nursing jobs are projected to increase by 45% from 2019 to 2029, thanks to the trend of NPs serving as care leaders.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a women's health nurse practitioner deliver babies?

No. While a WHNP can participate in deliveries, only nurse midwives or physicians are authorized to oversee births. Some women's health NPs also obtain the nurse midwife certification in order to deliver.

How long does it take to become a WHNP?

It takes at least six years of education (four for a BSN, two for an MSN). While the specialty credential itself does not require experience in women's health nursing, most MSN-NP programs do require 1-2 years of clinical experience.

What is the role of a nurse in women's health?

A women's health nurse practitioner serves the role as both educator on health conditions and prevention and practitioner, diagnosing and treating conditions. Women's health NPs can also order tests and prescribe medications.

How much do WHNPs make?

WHNP salaries are above the U.S. average. In 2019, the annual median base salary was $110,000. However, earning potential varies by workplace, professional experience, and geographic region.

Resources for Women's Health Nurse Practitioners

  • This organization offers continuing education opportunities, publishes a clinical journal and a weekly newsletter, and issues practice guidelines. The association also hosts a job board and advocates for women's health NPs. Full membership is open to NPs and nurse midwives.
  • Nursing students and RNs who join AWHONN can take advantage of continuing education opportunities, an annual conference, and an exclusive job board. The association also publishes practice briefs and a journal while advancing the interests of nurses.
  • AMWA promotes women in healthcare and highlights women's healthcare and related issues, including gender equity and human trafficking. All women in medicine and healthcare may join.
  • This organization's job center lets employers post open positions, including women's health nurse practitioner jobs. Anyone may see and reply to openings, although AANP members receive an exclusive two-day preview period.


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Reviewed by:

Elizabeth Clarke (Poon) is a board-certified family nurse practitioner who provides primary and urgent care to pediatric populations. She earned a BSN and MSN from the University of Miami.

Clarke is a paid member of our Healthcare Review Partner Network. Learn more about our review partners.

NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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