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Spotlight on the Nurse-Midwife/Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner

doctor and nurse meet with pregnant patientNurse-midwives and women’s health nurse practitioners are advanced practice nurses who provide obstetrical, gynecological, and primary health care services to women. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the responsibilities of nurse-midwives include diagnosing and coordinating all aspects of the childbirth process as well as providing gynecological care.

Both nurse-midwives and women’s health nurse practitioners (WHNPs) are employed by private practices, hospitals, and medical centers. In addition to conducting patient examinations and attending births, their scope of practice includes writing prescriptions, ordering diagnostic tests, and providing parent education and basic nutritional counseling. Nurse-midwives and women’s health nurse practitioners perform their duties independently or as part of larger health care teams.

Nurse-midwives focus on care and support during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period, but many also provide women’s health care before and after pregnancy. WHNPs also provide services related to the full spectrum of gender-specific health needs during a woman’s lifetime. According to the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health, a professional nursing organization, WHNPs are qualified to perform pap smears, breast cancer screening, contraceptive care, fertility evaluation, and menopause management. WHNPs can also perform screening for general health problems like hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes, and provide physician referrals.

The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners reports that there are approximately 155,000 nurse practitioners in the nation; this includes nurse-midwives, WHNPs, and other areas of specialization. According to the American Midwifery Certification Board, there are 12,695 CNMs/CMs in the U.S. The CDC reports that CNMs attended approximately 303,953 births in 2010, representing 7.6 percent of total births for the year. The overwhelming majority of CNM-attended births (98.8 percent) occurred in hospitals; the other 1.2 percent took place in private homes or birthing centers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook has predicted that the demand for registered nurses will increase by 26 percent between 2010 and 2020. Due to rising health care costs and an ongoing shortage of physicians, the demand for nurse-midwives and women’s health nurse practitioners is expected to experience similar growth.

Becoming a certified nurse-midwife or women’s health nurse practitioner requires completion of a master’s in nursing degree with a nurse-midwife or women’s health nurse practitioner concentration. Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies offers an on-campus and online program that features these two options. Nursing@Georgetown, the online modality, is delivered via an innovative online environment that allows students to earn an MS degree in 18 months of full-time study or 24 months part time.

Nurses who have earned a BSN can benefit from the expertise of Georgetown’s renowned faculty while accessing courses at their convenience via the Internet. In addition to seminar-style instruction, the program includes clinical experiences arranged by Georgetown faculty in close proximity to each student’s home.

We invite you to learn more about the Nursing@Georgetown program, or call our admissions team at 1-877-910-HOYA (4692).

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