Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP)

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More than 50 percent of Americans are women. Numerous factors, including genetics, stress, spiritual values, personal relationships, and other factors affect women’s health. Scientific research conducted during last 20 years has determined that women’s bodies respond differently to disease than men, so gender-specific healthcare and education are essential for women to live happy and healthy lives. As a result, women’s health is an emerging field for health practitioners interested in improving health and medical care for women.

Women’s health nurse practitioners specialize in diseases primarily affecting women. Additionally, they specialize in healthcare strategies for women struggling with chronic pain. Women receiving care from these specialists can live healthier lives since they work with practitioners who understand women-specific health issues. Likewise, younger women receiving specialized care can eliminate health problems plaguing older women, thus reducing medical care expenses.

Throughout the United States, between 12,000 to 15,000 nurses currently specialize in women’s health. Many states do not require women’s health nurse practitioners to become certified, but about 50 percent of states do, equaling about 7,000 specialists. Since more women are now seeking specialized care, demand for women’s health nurse practitioners is rising and expected to remain high through the near future.

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Women’s health nurse practitioners are registered nurses with specialized training and years of experience treating women in clinical settings. These specialists provide comprehensive health services to young girls, and adolescent, adult, and elderly women. They also specialize in gynecology and reproductive health and assist women struggling with chronic pain, prenatal and postpartum health problems, high-risk pregnancies, eating disorders, menopause, sexual dysfunction, and postpartum depression. Some women’s health nurse practitioners treat men with certain types of reproductive problems.

Women’s health nurse practitioners administer direct patient care, educate women about preventative healthcare and healthy lifestyles, and lobby elected representatives to enact public policies designed to improve women’s health.

Since women referred to women’s health nurse practitioners usually have multiple doctors, these specialists are often required to review medical records from multiple clinics, identify medical conditions affecting emotional and physical well-being, teach patients preventative health, collaborate with other specialists providing care to discuss patient care and identify potential problems, and follow up with them to ensure patients are receiving necessary care and have access to essential resources.

Women’s health nurse practitioners frequently work with elected representatives, managed healthcare organizations, non-profit groups, and community groups to address women’s health issues. Issues addressed include breast and other forms of cancers primarily affecting women, reproductive health, pre and neonatal healthcare education, teen pregnancy, and improving accessibility to medical resources for single mothers, and those mired in poverty.

Women’s health nurse practitioners typically work in settings where health problems affecting women, including prenatal and postpartum care, gynecological health, menopausal care, and other feminine-specific problems are treated. After acquiring additional training and clinical experience, many women’s health nurse practitioners specialize in cardiovascular health, infertility, oncology, bone health, urogynecology, endocrinology, breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer, and high-risk pregnancy. Additionally, many obtain extra training to qualify to operate ultrasound and other high-tech equipment.

Practice Settings
Women’s health nurse practitioners are employed at hospitals, doctors’ offices, assisted living facilities, and various outpatient facilities. Additionally, women’s health nurse practitioners can be found at primary care clinics, community health clinics, government health departments, convalescent centers, colleges and universities, fertility clinics, and antepartum triage units. Many women’s health nurse practitioners also work for non-profit organizations organizing public health and education campaigns to improve women’s health.

Women’s health nurse practitioners must be effective decision-makers, communicators, and have the ability to analyze complex problems. Additionally, they must possess specialized knowledge about women’s health and specific diseases and health problems affecting them. Aspiring professionals in this field should obtain case management experience since various factors, including physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being, in addition to stress and personal relationships affect women’s health. Women’s health nurse practitioners are trained to develop personalized healthcare plans for women, recognize potential health problems, and adhere strictly to medical ethics and laws while administering care. Many people work for years as registered nurses in women’s health clinics or infant delivery units before specializing in women’s health. Other facilities where experience in this field can be obtained include obstetrical units, outpatient clinics, battered women’s shelters, and other facilities where women primarily receive medical care

Salary Range
Nurse practitioners nationwide typically earn salaries falling anywhere from $50,000 -70,000 a year, while average annual salaries for these professionals is $60,000. Annual salaries for women’s health nurse practitioners are affected by clinic and geographic region. Salaries for women’s health nurse practitioners usually fall in the middle of these figures, but those who specialize typically earn higher annual salaries.

Women’s health nurse practitioners receive additional classroom and clinical training beyond what registered nurses are required to complete. These specialists often earn graduate degrees or complete specialized certificate programs. During women’s health training programs, students are required to complete courses in general health evaluation, obstetrics, gynecology, female reproductive issues, disease prevention, and healthy lifestyle promotion.

Since this is a specialized field, many healthcare providers prefer hiring women’s health nurse practitioners with graduate-level training. Numerous universities now offer master’s degrees in nursing with coursework specifically designed for individuals interested in women’s health.

Those pursuing the certificate route will be required to complete advanced clinical and classroom training. Although earning a certificate does not carry the same weight as a master’s degree, graduates will be prepared to treat various health problems affecting women.

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