960x667 Understanding The Role Of Nurse

The role of nurses in women’s health

If you are a nurse or considering becoming one, you may be wondering if you should work in primary care or if you can work in a specialty such as women’s health. In health care, the demand for trained women’s health providers continues to grow. These professionals are specially trained to care for women throughout their lives, to know the risk factors of common female health conditions and to treat these conditions to help women enjoy the best quality of life. A women’s health nurse can play an important role in this aspect of the health care industry.

What is a Women’s Health Nurse (WNHP)?

A women’s health nurse practitioner (WHNP) is an advanced practice registered nurse (RN) who has specific training in caring for the needs of women. The many different factors that can go into women’s health care, including obstetrics, gynecology, fertility, and maternal/fetal medicine, all require specialized training. These specially trained practitioners are prepared to help with:

  • Gynecological care
  • Pregnancy care
  • Pregnancy risk management
  • Postnatal care
  • STI diagnosis and treatment
  • Family planning and fertility
  • Female oncology diagnosis and care
  • Primary care for women

With the advanced training and clinical experience that earns a nurse a WHNP degree, many states allow these practitioners to work on their own. All states allow them to diagnose and treat diseases and conditions for their patients, referring to doctors only for more complicated patient care, such as high-risk pregnancies. This advanced training allows a nurse to prescribe medications and perform many procedures, but WHNPs do not deliver babies. In many states, nurse practitioners are free to practice independently, although some states require them to work in conjunction with a physician.

WHNP’s importance in healthcare

Women have a wide variety of health needs that require specialized care. In addition to basic primary care, the complexity of the female reproductive system can cause a wide range of health issues unique to women. Pregnancy and reproductive health drive much of the demand for nurses trained in women’s health care.

WHNPs Increasing Demand

More than half of the current population of the United States is female. This means that there is already an increased demand for trained women’s health care providers. Additionally, the CDC indicates that women are more likely to visit the doctor than men. This combination means that WHNPs are in greater demand than other types of nurses and primary care providers.

Areas of Practice for Women’s Health Nurse Practitioners

A women’s health nurse fulfills an important role within the health care field with the specialized training they receive in women’s health. There are several practice areas for a WHNP to consider. This includes:

Primary care

Primary care nurses provide care for common medical problems. This practitioner is one of the first providers a woman will see when she has a health complaint, even if that complaint requires a more specific level of care. This practitioner is also the one people will see for colds, viruses and basic injuries. They can diagnose illnesses, prescribe medications and refer patients to specialty care when needed.

Prenatal and Postnatal Care

Prenatal care is essential to help create positive outcomes for mothers and their babies, and this type of care requires special training in pregnancy and birth. The abilities and care of a skilled nurse have a huge impact on pregnancy outcomes, especially for very young or older mothers. Pregnant women can experience any number of complications that require a skilled hand, including diabetes, anemia, and emotional concerns.

An NP trained in women’s health is often the person who provides prenatal and postpartum care. While these practitioners must transfer care to a physician in high-risk, complicated, or surgical births, the vast majority of pregnancies are perfectly situated for care from a WHNP. Many OB-GYN practices will employ both a physician and a nurse practitioner to enable them to care for all types of mothers who come to their practices.

After a baby is born, women need specialized care to recover from childbirth and deal with breastfeeding and other baby care problems. A WHNP provides postnatal care to ensure full healing after birth and to diagnose postnatal concerns.

Life care through menopause

The need for specialty nurse supervision does not end after the childbearing years. Women also need this care when they enter menopause. The changes in hormones that women experience as they age can cause a wide range of health complaints. Although these are not necessarily health problems, they can be treated by a properly trained provider to make this life change more comfortable.

In addition, women who are not pregnant but are menopausal need regular checkups to check for problems such as ovarian and cervical cancer, thyroid conditions, and osteoporosis. While a primary care provider can provide these exams, someone trained in women’s health is going to be more adept at spotting early warning signs, and many women feel more comfortable and confident working with a specialist for these types of appointments. Again, this is where a trained WHNP can help.

General wellness and preventive care

One of the passions of many nurses is not only to diagnose disease, but also to help patients avoid disease through proper preventive care and general wellness education. As part of their practice, these health care professionals will teach women about what they need to do to prevent illness and enjoy better overall health. By arming patients with knowledge about their overall health, a WHNP can help women enjoy a longer, healthier life.

These practitioners also help screen for depression, anxiety and domestic abuse. These common mental and emotional health problems can be hard to spot, and the right training can help these practitioners spot subtle signs so they can get the right help for their patients.

WHNP certification

Women’s health nurses must complete proper certification to ensure they are well versed in women’s health. It begins with the WHNP exam from the National Certification Corporation. These nurses will also need to apply for WHNP certification in their state. A quality Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner degree program will provide instruction to prepare a nurse for these certification exams.

How to Become a Women’s Health Nurse

Wondering how to become a WHNP? Because it is a specialty focus in medicine, there is a specific series of steps to follow. These are:

1. Become a registered nurse

Women’s health nurse practitioner programs require applicants to be registered nurses. You must pass the NCLEX-RN exam and be certified in your specific state. Most programs appreciate working with nurses who have worked as an RN for at least a year before applying. Always check with the program you are pursuing to see what prerequisite work experience and training it requires.

2. Apply to your program

After completing RN training and getting some work experience under your belt, you can apply for a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner training program. The Master of Science in Nursing, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner program from Keizer University is an excellent choice. It is the only master’s degree program for this specialty in the state of Florida, and it is available as a fully online program. Most students can complete the program in 30 months, and you can keep working while you learn.

3. Get certified

The final step to becoming a WHNP is to become certified. You will need to pass the National Certification Corporation exam and the state exam in your state. Once you’ve done both, you’re ready to start working with women to help them enjoy a greater quality of life, better pregnancy outcomes, and more healthy aging.

If working with women through all life stages appeals to you, then consider becoming a women’s health nurse practitioner. Reach out to Keizer University to learn more about our WHNP MSN program today, and see how you can use our training to improve your skills and make you a more effective nurse for women of all ages.

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