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  • Writer's pictureKamri Morris

Nurse Practitioner Journey: What is a WHNP?

Updated: Sep 13, 2019

I’ve been asked quite a few times, why I chose to pursue Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner over Family Nurse Practitioner. The two have many overlapping similarities but a few differences that caused me to weigh heavily between which would be best for me. Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner

A Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) is an Advanced Practicing Nurse specializing in women’s obstetric and gynecological care. WHNPs can work in doctor’s offices, hospitals, and some may even choose to work in education or the research sector. WHNPs can work independently in some states, but many work in interdisciplinary teams including OB/GYNs and other clinicians. WHNPs generally provide care from adolescence, onward through the geriatric stage. Services provided by Women's Health Nurse Practitioners include (but are not limited to):

  • Well Women Exams and Pap Smears

  • Prenatal and Postpartum Care

  • Family Planning and Birth Control

  • Fertility Evaluation

  • STD Screenings

  • Menopausal Care

Family Nurse Practitioner Services provided by Family Nurse Practitioners include (but are not limited to): Family Nurse Practitioners (FNP) are also Advanced Practicing Nurses but in a much broader standpoint, able to provide services to patients of all ages including children and males unlike WHNPs. FNPs may work in a variety of settings, including doctor’s offices, clinics, private homes, schools, or hospitals. Due to the broad education, FNPs can work in many specialties including Emergency Medicine, Dermatology, and Psychiatry,

  • Annual Physical Exams

  • Treating Chronic and Acute Illnesses

  • Perform/Assist with Surgical Procedures

  • Education and Health Promotion

  • Pediatric Care

Why I chose WHNP My long-term career goal is to provide family planning and obstetric care to women of under-served communities. My dream job out of graduate school would be to work in an acute care obstetric setting, such as a Labor & Delivery Triage or Obstetric Urgent Care. No matter which route I would decide to take, I know my target patient population is women of childbearing age. Due to this, I felt as though I would rather take classes aimed at that population versus learning about things not necessarily as interesting or relevant to my goal.

At Drexel University, I’ll take courses such as “Pharmacology for Women’s Health Nurse Practitioners” which will give me in depth knowledge of drugs I’ll be using in practice as a WHNP versus just a generic Pharmacology course. I appreciate it being a more “tunnel vision” approach which I believe will truly help me to become an expert in what I’m truly passionate about which is Women’s Health. There are many FNPs that function in the OB/GYN role who perform the same duties as a WHNPs. It all boils down to personal preference and what you want to receive from your education. I do see other master-level/doctoral degrees in my future, so who knows what path my WHNP degree will ultimately lead me down. I have no intentions of caring for men nor children. Though Family Nurse Practitioner programs can prepare you for any career specialty in nursing, Women's Health Nurse Practitioners can also specialize in fields such oncology, geriatrics, endocrinology, and more. This means that if I decide to have a change of heart in my career, I still have many other sectors to explore within Women's Health.

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