It is vital for nurses to develop a relationship of trust with their patients, and to deliver health-related services that are compassionate and caring. For some conditions or situations, the patient gains extra reassurance from access to a specialist nurse, and this is certainly the case when it comes to women’s health issues. 

Nurses focusing on female-specific care can be a welcome and reassuring presence in many healthcare settings and medical situations.

Obstetrics and gynecology (OBGYN) services

OBGYN departments and clinics are, of course, the most common healthcare service providers that employ specialist nurses for women. This is because the most obvious reason to have qualified nurses who specifically care for women is that their biological needs are gender specific.

From adolescence to senior years, a woman’s reproductive system can create a diverse range of medical needs that must be carefully addressed. This starts with adolescent girls and goes right through to menopause. 

The doctors who specialize in pregnancy, childbirth, and female reproductive health gain vital support from their nursing colleagues. Also, nurse practitioners (trained to an advanced level) are also taking on some of the tasks traditionally done by physicians to improve access to women’s health services. For example, nurse midwives have clinically sophisticated skills and personal and professional abilities suited to this role.

Stepping in throughout healthcare provision

The contribution made by nurses who specialize in female anatomy, hormones and medical issues can be found in many other healthcare environments, not just in OB-GYN. In fact, women’s health nurses may be drafted into care teams right across healthcare provision to end-of-life care.

For example, there could be a female patient who is facing major surgery, and who has serious concerns about the effect it will have on their ability to give birth in the future. An honest, open and informative discussion with an empathetic nurse could be vital in this situation.

Another advantage of having well-informed nurses who specialize in women’s health is that there are mental and emotional differences between the genders, as well as physiological factors. For instance, spotting postpartum depression in women, and helping them through it, could be the responsibility of family nurse practitioners who work in the community.

Cancers that affect women

Specialist knowledge of the female anatomy can also be crucial for nurses helping women access screening services and treatment for certain types of cancer. This includes the nurses who play an important role in breast health education and support, and who promote and deliver such essential tests as those for cervical cancer. 

Having a nurse with high levels of empathy and understanding can help female patients feel more at ease with uncomfortable tests and examinations, and discussions about intimate recovery issues. It is often women’s health nurses who guide and advise patients on reconstructive surgery following a mastectomy, and also the emotional challenges that may follow cancer surgeries for women.

In the US in 2024, an estimated 13,820 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed, according to the American Cancer Society. Pap tests dispensed by nursing professionals in this field are helping to improve early detection, and therefore survival rates. 

Promoting the need for vaccines, smears and mammograms to girls and women is part of the educational tasks that some women’s health nurses fulfill.

Image of a nurse engaged in conversation with a female patient.

Preventive and educational nursing tasks

There are many important roles for nurses in preventive medicine specifically aimed at women. It involves showing women how to protect their health and providing insights and suggestions about how to best manage any female-specific biological issues. This can start by helping girls and women become familiar with the biological structure of their bodies, as well as the science behind menstruation.

A further illustration of this would be a nurse empathetically discussing menopause with a patient. By doing this, the patient will know some of the possible physical, mental, and emotional issues that happen at this time of life. Knowing that they are ‘not alone’ and that their experiences are normal can be a great comfort to women and enable them to better self-manage this phase of their reproductive health and function.

There are also women’s health specialist nurses attached to clinics and other healthcare providers delivering services to prevent unwanted pregnancies or deal with sexual health issues.

Nurses with the ability to establish a relationship of trust – and who can communicate well with biological, intersex, and transgender women – can also ensure that patients get help at the right time. It is far more likely that their patients will feel confident and comfortable enough to raise often highly personal issues.

Studying to be a nurse providing female-specific care

If this is the sort of role you can see yourself in, how can you embark upon a career in nursing that focuses on women’s health? Even if you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree and no nursing experience, it is possible to become a nurse, including one specializing in female-specific care.

Enrolling in a Hybrid ABSN program offers students the chance to gain hands-on experience. The Hybrid Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing delivered by Saint Joseph’s College of Maine offers you 100% online coursework and doesn’t require any prior nursing experience. The university also helps with placements and in-person clinical training in local communities, such as women’s health clinics or hospital faculties. Students can graduate with knowledge of evidence-based practice and high-quality care for children.

There is a high demand for nurses who specialize in women’s health in many specialties and settings. In fact, according to a Health Workforce study, posts for full-time women’s health service providers (such as certified nurse midwives, women’s health nurse practitioners and women’s health physician assistants) will increase by 3% to 4% by 2030.

The demand for women’s health nurses

To specialize in women’s health as a nurse, whether in your first or second career, it’s essential to identify a niche that aligns with your experiences, personality, ambitions, and preferences, specifically focusing on female-specific care. Once you’ve found your niche, you can enroll in a program to build your qualifications for this fulfilling career path.