DescriptionA women’s health nurse practitioner is usually a registered nurse who specializes in comprehensive and continuing health care for women throughout the lifespan, especially with an emphasis on female-specific conditions unique to women. These practitioners are usually employed by hospitals or other medical organizations and function as specialized health care providers. Some of the specific areas they provide services include maternal/child care; gynecological health care including yearly exams and/or screening; treatment or management of diseases of the reproductive system; and disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, including infertility issues. There are also specialists who focus on a specific health problem such as breast cancer or cervical cancer.
TrainingThe training requirements for a WLPN are relatively short in duration. In most states, a nurse can complete the licensure exam after going through training provided by a vocational nursing school for 2 years. Licensing is based on performance on the licensing exam and includes a board certification after completion of the course. If a nurse already has a license and chooses to take a national board certification, she will need to complete the NCLEX-RN (Registered Nurse Examination) within a certain time period after starting practice.
Skill SetsAs a WLPN, you will be working in close collaboration with doctors, surgeons, and other clinical staff at a clinic or hospital. Your tasks may include assisting nurses in basic care, providing assistance with the administration of prescribed medications, and educating patients on health care options. You may be involved in various parts of the treatment process, depending on the scope of your individual practice. Nurses who choose to become WLPNs have the option to specialize in a particular area of nursing. There are several different paths available to those wishing to pursue this professional path, including a nurse practitioner program through a college or community college, a physician-directed nurse Practitioner program, or an online practitioner program.
EducationIn order to be a WLPN, you will need to complete a Registered Nurse education program. These programs provide the basic education necessary to begin working as a registered nurse, as well as specific coursework related to the field of women’s health care. Upon completion of the RNP coursework, nurses will be required to take the NCLEX-RN exam. Successful completion of this exam qualifies nurses to sit for the NCLEX exam for a state licensing examination.
ExperienceThe role of a WLPN is not an easy one. It requires a great deal of interaction with patients and medical staff in order to provide quality care. A women’s health nurse practitioner must also possess excellent interpersonal skills and be able to diagnose and treat common issues in women’s healthcare such as diabetes and sexually transmitted diseases. This position is also important because of the large role it plays in patient families and their overall well being. Nurses should work in close collaboration with physicians, in order to provide the best possible care to patients.
EducationFor a student to become a WLPN, they must first complete an RN degree at an accredited nursing school. They will also have to complete specialized training at a vocational or technical college, depending on where they live. In order to become a RNP, a person must complete either a Master’s degree in nursing or a Doctoral degree. To qualify, a person must also complete either a 2-year degree nursing program at a community college or a 4-year bachelor’s degree or master’s degree nursing at an institution that offers this type of program. Once the requirements are complete, nurses can apply to work at a doctor’s office, hospital, or other healthcare facility. In addition to having completed their education, WLPNs must also pass a licensing exam administered by the state they live in, so WLPNs must also be prepared to pass this exam before beginning employment.
ExperienceUpon becoming a licensed WLPN, a nurse practitioner can work in many different healthcare settings. Depending on the institution from which they graduated, they may work in a hospital or other medical facility, or they may work in the insurance industry providing primary care to patients. Nurses may also open their own practices, working for private, for profit, or government employers. Some nurses even start their own companies and operate them as sole proprietors.
CertificationWommen’s Health Professionals Assistance Program (WHPP) awards certification to individuals who successfully complete all of the required education and experience. Candidates must achieve a minimum of 72 hours of supervised instruction in basic nursing skills, as well as participate in a company-sponsored internship. After completing the certification, they will be issued a credential that can be added to their permanent license. WHPP also allows registered nurses to apply for certification once they have reached their master’s degree in health care.