Women’s Health & Gender-Related Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) – Education, Licensure & Salary

Women need to have access to healthcare that is specifically designed to meet their needs. Not only do women have unique healthcare needs that differ from those of men, such as breast and ovarian cancer, menstrual periods, and childbirth, but they also have a higher risk of developing conditions like osteoporosis and uterine fibroids. Women’s specific healthcare, such as the care provided by women’s health and gender-related nurse practitioners, can help improve women’s overall health and ensure that they can live long healthy lives.

Women’s health nurse practitioners (WHNPs) are specialized nurse practitioners that focus on providing comprehensive care for women throughout their lifespans. WHNPs can offer a wide range of services, from preventative care to managing chronic conditions. They play a vital role in educating women about their health and helping them make informed decisions about their care. WHNPs are also uniquely qualified to support and guide women during pregnancy and postpartum care. 

As the healthcare needs of women continue to evolve, the demand for WHNPs is expected to grow. This will provide more opportunities for nurses to enter this field and make a difference in women’s lives. To become a WHNP, a registered nurse must complete a master’s of science in nursing, a doctor of nursing practice, or a post-master’s certificate in women’s health and gender-related nursing. National certification and a state license are required in order to practice in this field. 

Continue reading to learn more about the steps required to become a WHNP, including detailed descriptions of licensure and certification requirements.

How to Become a Women’s Health & Gender-Related Nurse Practitioner (WHNP)

The first step to becoming a WHNP is to become a registered nurse (RN). To do this, students must graduate from an accredited associate of science in nursing or bachelor’s of science in nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). 

After passing the exam, candidates can apply to their state’s nursing board for an RN license. Once an RN license has been obtained, a nurse can begin working in a healthcare setting while they complete the rest of the steps necessary to become a WHNP. 

The next step to becoming a WHNP is completing an advanced degree. Nurses can earn a master of science in nursing or doctor of nursing practice degree specializing in women’s health and gender-related nursing from an accredited nursing program. These programs take between 18 months to four years to complete. If a nurse already has a master’s degree in another field, they can choose to complete a post-master’s certificate instead of a master’s or doctorate.  

Once a nurse has completed their advanced degree, they are eligible to take the Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner (WHNP-BC) exam offered by the National Certification Corporation (NCC). The last step is to apply for state licensure as a nurse practitioner. To do this, candidates must submit proof of their RN license, advanced degree, NCC certification, and any other required documentation set forth by the state board of nursing.

What Does a Women’s Health & Gender-Related Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) Do? 

There are various workplaces for WHNPS, including hospitals, clinics, private practices, and community health centers. They provide care for women of all ages, from adolescence through menopause. In many cases, WHNPs are the primary care provider for their patients. Day-to-day job duties for WHNPs can include:

  • Providing primary healthcare to women of all ages
  • Assessing and managing ordinary women’s health issues
  • Completing well-women exams
  • Offering family planning counseling
  • Assisting patients in managing chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Providing prenatal and postpartum care
  • Working with interprofessional teams to provide holistic care
  • Acting as a patient advocate for clients with complicated healthcare needs

OB/GYN Nurse Practitioner vs. Women’s Health & Gender-Related Nurse Practitioner (WHNP)

While WHNPs can care for women during pregnancy and postpartum, they are not typically trained in labor and delivery. However, OB/GYN nurse practitioners (NPs) do have this training and experience. OB-GYN NPs are also more likely to have experience with high-risk pregnancies and gynecological surgery. 

They are also generally better equipped to deal with the hormonal changes that can occur during a woman’s lifetime. WHNPs, on the other hand, are specifically trained in women’s health issues, such as breast cancer, family planning, menstruation, and menopause. They are also more likely to be up-to-date on the latest research regarding women’s primary care. 

It should be noted that there is currently no national certification for OB-GYN NPs. Instead, they can be certified and licensed as a WHNP or certified nurse midwife and complete additional training and education in obstetrics and gynecology. 

How Much Do Women’s Health & Gender-Related Nurse Practitioners (WHNP) Make?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not track specific salary data for WHNPs but aggregates salaries for all nurse practitioners. 

According to the BLS (May 2021), nurse practitioners in the US earn $118,040 per year on average. The percentiles for NPs wages were:

  • 10th percentile: $79,470
  • 25th percentile: $99,540
  • 50th  percentile (median): $120,680
  • 75th percentile: $129,680
  • 90th percentile: $163,350

Salary.com (2023), a salary aggregate website, provides detailed salary information for WHNPs:

  • 10th percentile: $98,449
  • 25th percentile: $104,619
  • 50th  percentile (median): $111,397
  • 75th percentile: $119,499
  • 90th percentile: $126,875

Women’s Health & Gender-Related Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) Licensure and Certification Requirements 

WHNP Licensing

All WHNPs must have a license to practice. Most states license WHNPs as nurse practitioners or advanced practice registered nurses. While the licensing requirements may vary a little from state to state, here are the relatively universal qualifications:

  • An unencumbered and active nursing license in that state
  • Hold an approved national nurse practitioner certification 
  • Complete a graduate degree or post-master’s certificate for nurse practitioners from an accredited institution
  • Pass a drug screening and a background check

WHNP Certifications and Eligibility

For nurses to be eligible to sit for the Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner (WHNP-BC) exam offered by the National Certification Corporation (NCC), they must: 

  • Have a current, active, and unencumbered US nursing or advanced practice nursing licensure
  • Complete an accredited graduate nurse practitioner program that meets NCC program requirements and prepares women’s health nurse practitioners. The program must include a minimum of 200 didactic and 600 clinical hours and be at least nine months long
  • Apply for the exam within eight years of graduating from their program

WHNP Certification Renewal

The WHNP-BC certification from the NCC must be renewed every three years. 

To renew, candidates must have a current, active, and unencumbered US nursing or advanced practice nursing license. They must also complete the Continuing Competency Assessment, earn continuing education credits based on the outcome of the assessment, and submit a completed maintenance plan.

Kimmy Gustafson

Kimmy Gustafson

Writer

Thanks to her experience writing in healthcare, Kimmy Gustafson has delivered in-depth articles on timely topics for NursingColleges.com since 2022. Her aim is to assist both students and professionals in navigating the intricate process of selecting a nursing program and understanding the ever-evolving realm of nursing education.

Kimmy has been a freelance writer for more than a decade, writing hundreds of articles on a wide variety of topics such as startups, nonprofits, healthcare, kiteboarding, the outdoors, and higher education. She is passionate about seeing the world and has traveled to over 27 countries. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Oregon. When not working, she can be found outdoors, parenting, kiteboarding, or cooking.