Women's Health Nurse Practitioner

mother and daughter

For many years, the School of Nursing had an informal relationship with the OB/GYN nurse practitioner program of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. As time passed, prospective students inquired about the possibility of a WHNP program at master’s level at the School of Nursing. With support of a federal grant, the Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) specialty was added to the curriculum in 1996. Teaching Specialist Mary Rossi, CNM, MS, wrote a grant proposal that launched the program and provided leadership for the first couple of years. Then Clinical Associate Professor Catherine Juve, CNP, PhD, was appointed and assumed leadership of the program. The faculty worked closely with the long-established nurse midwifery (CNM) faculty who provided much of the instruction. CNM faculty along with adult/gerontological nurse practitioner and FNP programs collaborated to create a strong, cost-effective option that capitalized on the ability to share course work and clinical experiences. Together with other primary care students they took courses in health assessment, pharmacology, pharmacotherapeutics, and assessment and management of health for advanced practice nurses. Courses in common with the CNM curriculum included reproductive health care for women, primary care, and care of women at risk. As Dr. Juve began her transition into retirement, Diane Schadewald took over as coordinator of the program. She resigned her position in 2013. Schadewald had been joined by Clinical Assistant Professor Diana Drake, WHNP, DNP.

For a time, the program collaborated with Planned Parenthood, which had its own Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner program. In 2002 the Planned Parenthood program ended and Planned Parenthood agreed to be a “primary” clinical site for the University’s WHNP program.

The WHNP program prepares nurses to provide advanced practice care to women throughout their lifespan and encompasses the unique needs, challenges and life transitions in women’s lives. 

Graduates are prepared to educate women on health issues and serve as primary care providers through chronic and acute illness. They are prepared to diagnose, manage and treat common and complex prenatal and reproductive health conditions.

Phase 2 of the DNP program began in Fall 2009 when a program was offered for nurses with baccalaureate degrees. It was designed to prepare students for advanced practice certification and included the DNP completion courses developed for Phase 1. It used a combination of traditional on-campus classes and web-based formats. At that time, the school stopped admitting students to the master of science (MS) program. The WHNP option also made the transition to the DNP. The clinical specialization portion of the curriculum was very similar to that of the MS curriculum although revisions for the DNP curriculum were made to ensure that the studies were at a doctoral level.

Upon completing the WHNP program, graduates are qualified to sit for the Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner certification exam administered by the National Certification Corporation