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

“Moving forward, the WHNP role as patient advocate will become an increasingly essential component of care. To gain a full awareness of the obstacles blocking our patients’ paths to optimal health, we have to step outside the confines of our office or clinic spaces and step into the communities where they live and work.” 

Ginny Moore, DNP, Director of the Women’s Health and Gender-related NP Specialty, Vanderbilt School of Nursing

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 who focus on providing comprehensive care for women throughout their lifespans. WHNPs can offer various 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.

Ask an Expert: Ginny Moore, DNP, WHNP-BC, FAANP

Dr. Ginny Moore is director of the women’s health and gender-related NP specialty at Vanderbilt School of Nursing, where she is also a professor. She is a board-certified WHNP whose special interest is populations at risk for health disparities. She has taught at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing since 1990, while practicing in diverse settings that include family planning, sexual assault examination, private practice, and community-based health care.

Dr. Moore currently serves as project director for the HRSA grant-supported development of sexual assault nurse examiner training for providers in rural communities. She serves on the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health board of directors, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners Research Committee, and the Interprofessional Education Group of the Council on Resident Education in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Nursing Colleges: What is something you wish the public understood about women’s health and/or women’s health NPs?

Dr. Moore: Women’s health nurse practitioners (WHNP) are specialists in the provision of women’s and gender-related healthcare beginning in puberty and extending across the lifespan. We meet the gynecologic, obstetric, and primary care needs of our patients with a focus on healthcare management, disease prevention, and health promotion. Additionally, WHNPs may choose to subspecialize in a number of focused areas including fertility care, sexual health, menopause care, urogynecology, and gyn-oncology.

Nursing Colleges: What advice would you give to new and aspiring nurses considering a specialization in women’s health?

Dr. Moore: My #1 piece of advice is to follow your passion! Oftentimes, new and aspiring nurses opt for a generalist track such as family or adult health, thinking they can choose to specialize in women’s and gender-related health upon graduation. What they quickly realize is that they don’t have the educational preparation or clinical experience to specialize in the care of this population. So, if your passion is to provide women’s and gender-related healthcare, pursue the WHNP specialty!

Nursing Colleges: What does the future of women’s health and/or the women’s health NP role look like to you?

Dr. Moore: Moving forward, the WHNP role as patient advocate will become an increasingly essential component of care. To gain a full awareness of the obstacles blocking our patients’ paths to optimal health, we have to step outside the confines of our office or clinic spaces and step into the communities where they live and work. We have to explore ways of how best to educate our patients and we have to embed ourselves in the political processes that shape the health policies affecting their lives. 

Involvement in these activities is every bit as essential as the hands-on care we provide if we’re truly going to impact the health outcomes of the patients we serve.

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 2022), the mean wage for nurse practitioners in the US is $125,900 per year on average with the following percentiles:

  • 10th percentile: $87,340
  • 25th percentile: $103,250
  • 50th percentile (median): $121,610
  • 75th percentile: $135,470
  • 90th percentile: $165,240

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


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.

Matt Zbrog

Matt Zbrog


Matt Zbrog is a writer and researcher from Southern California. Since 2018, he’s written extensively about the modern nursing workforce, conducting hundreds of interviews with nurse leaders, nurse educators, and nurse advocates to explore the issues that matter to them most. His Advocates to Know series focuses on nurse practitioners (NPs) who go above and beyond in changing policy and practice in important areas like veteran’s care, human trafficking prevention, and telehealth access. He regularly collaborates with subject matter experts from the American Nurses Association (ANA) and the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) to elevate issues that empower nurses everywhere.