Women's Health/Gender-Related Nurse Practitioner

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the role of the Women’s Health/Gender-Related Nurse Practitioner?

Women’s Health/Gender-Related Nurse Practitioner (WHGRNP) graduates are prepared to provide primary health care to women from adolescence through senior years. Most states require certification from the National Certification Corporation as a WHGRNP and a collaborating physician for prescriptive practice. All nursing practices, including prescriptive practice, are regulated by state laws. Therefore, licensing and scope of practice vary by state.  To learn about the specific laws and regulatory codes for prescriptive practice in your area, contact your state's Board of Nursing.


Do I have to be a nurse to enter this program?

No. You can enter this program as a BSN or MSN, or if you have a bachelor’s degree or higher in a field other than nursing. If you have a bachelor’s degree or higher in a field other than nursing, you can complete a one year full-time baccalaureate equivalent program (PreSpecialty Year - Clinical Experiences), and progress to the Women’s Health/Gender-Related Nurse Practitioner specialty. If you have a BSN, you enter directly into the specialty course work. All students, regardless of entry type, graduate with an MSN or post-master's certificate.


How many students are accepted into this specialty each year?

We encourage you to apply to the specialty that meets your career interest rather than focus on the number of spaces available. We strongly recommended that you complete your application by the October 15th early action date to have a greater probability of being admitted. The number of students offered admission can vary each year based on many factors. Typically, we admit about 15 students into this specialty each year.


Do I need RN work experience?

No. You can enter the program without RN work experience


Does the school accept transfer credit?

Matriculated students can transfer up to six semester credits of equivalent graduate level coursework from another accredited university to be applied toward the MSN. You must complete  this petition  and return, along with the course syllabus, to  Sara Donahoe . Courses completed elsewhere must have been taken within the last five years. The decision is based on equivalent content (for required courses), credit allotment, and satisfactory completion of the courses.


I have an MSN degree, does the school have a post-master’s option?

Yes. There is a Post-Master’s Certificate in Women’s Health that is available to students who already possess an advanced nursing degree. We recommend you consider the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program and complete the post-master’s certificate as part of your DNP program of studies.


Can I work full-time and go to school full-time?

We strongly recommend that students do not attempt school and work during the final two semesters of the WHGRNP program. Students who work weekend shifts can sometimes manage part-time employment, but weekday employment will conflict with clinical requirements. Whether students are full or part-time, they are required to complete 300 clinical hours (averaging 3 days per week) in out-patient, M-F settings during each of the two final semesters.

Can I take this program via the modified distance learning format?

This program is only offered via the modified distance learning format, so you do not need to give up employment or relocate to Nashville. If you do not have a prior nursing background, you must first complete your PreSpecialty Year on campus within a daily commute of Nashville before progressing to the specialty portion of your education which is taught only via a modified distance learning format.


What is the modified distance learning format?

Modified distance learning specifically means that you will do a portion of your course work online via taped lectures and web conferencing to integrate the material. A portion of your work requires on-campus learning in blocks of time (including weekends), followed by seminar and online discussions. Where possible, you can do your clinical practicum experience in your home area. You will be in continuous contact with your professors throughout the program and in between sessions.


Can I take this program part-time?

Yes, however you are required to follow a pre-determined program of studies. Length of time to complete the entire program varies depending on your background prior to VUSN enrollment.  Our admissions staff are happy to walk you through your specific situation (part-time curriculum plans)


What housing options are there for students participating in the modified distance format?

Our Admissions Office has a listing of hotels near the VUSN campus and many students choose to share hotel rooms to lower costs. Some students stay with local classmates.


What is the specialty portion of the curriculum like?

All full-time students, those living in the middle Tennessee area and those living outside of the middle Tennessee area, attend “block classes” on the Vanderbilt School of Nursing campus nine times over a one-year period.  These block classes may last from two- to six-day periods.  Students must also attend a three day orientation.  Block dates are determined early for the entire academic year allowing students plenty of time for adequate work/travel planning.  Faculty work closely with students throughout the entire program and are in continuous contact with students between block classes.


How many times do I need to visit campus?

You will come to the Vanderbilt campus four times during fall, three times during spring and one time during summer.


What are the clinical requirements for this program?

There are 630 clinical hours required.


How do you match me with a clinical preceptor?

The key to a student’s success in the distance format is a clinical placement with a qualified preceptor who is supporting and willing to mentor the student.  We view clinical placements as a required and integral part of your education.  Faculty work diligently to match you with appropriate preceptors so you can learn from clinical mentors and start applying your new skills and knowledge. We make every reasonable effort to accommodate a student’s placement request. Your specialty director will provide more information to assist you.


Is travel required as a part of my clinical placement?

Travel is often a requirement of the program, as we strive to give the student a vast array of clinical experiences to enrich the student experience (sample block schedule).


What will my credentials and certifications be?

Graduation from this MSN specialty program prepares you to take the national certification exam offered by the the National Certification Corporation. Passage of the exams is required in most states to obtain a license as an advanced practice nurse


What is the VUSN student pass rate on the certification exams?

Everyone will be well prepared for the certification exams as our students typically score well above national averages on these exams. For specific information, (click here).


Will I earn my nursing license?

If you enter without a nursing degree, you will take the NCLEX to obtain your Tennessee RN license after your first year of study.


Will I be able to get a job upon graduation?

One of the greatest things about women’s health is that it is continually evolving to meet current heath care needs. Inclusion of uro-gynecology, sexual health and alternative therapies content into our curriculum are just a few examples of how we strive to meet the relevant needs of the women we serve. Didactic and clinical preparation focused on the most current issues of women’s health give our graduates an edge in the employment arena.


Can I earn a DNP degree?

Yes!  Our both the MSN and Post-master’s certificate programs are designed for you to seamlessly transition to our DNP program.  After successful completion of one semester of the specialty year curriculum, you complete an abbreviated application to indicate your interest in progressing to the DNP program; no additional application fee is required. Either you can progress directly into the DNP program or you can take a gap year to work as an APRN before starting the DNP program. The advantage of earning the MSN degree before the DNP degree is that you will be able to work as an APRN during your DNP program. The DNP program is designed for APRNs who are working full or part time. See DNP program details.