Empowering Women’s Health: Duke School of Nursing Women’s Health NP Program

Empowering Women’s Health: Duke School of Nursing Women’s Health NP Program

As we embrace Women’s History Month, we proudly highlight our transformative Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) program. This program prepares advanced practice nurses with the skills and expertise necessary to provide primary and specialty medical care for women.


“Women represent over 50% of our population, and deserve attention to their gender specific care,” said Kathryn Trotter, DNP, CNM, FNP-C, CHSE, FAANP, FAAN, lead faculty for the Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner major. “Clinically, women’s health nurse practitioners can provider primary and specialty care to women from age 13-maturity and this program came to be to begin to fulfill a void in NC and nationally.”  

Students can earn a master’s degree in nursing or a post-master’s certificate for students interested in specializing in women’s health. The program accepted its first cohort of students in January 2015 and all seven graduates were women. Since then there have been 123 MSN and 13 post-master’s certificate graduates from the WHNP program. Shana Freeman, WHNP-BC, PHN is a 2020 graduate of the WHNP Program. After graduating from Duke, Freeman has been providing care to women throughout the lifespan, as a WHNP in the OBGYN setting. 

“This specialized program was important to me because I wanted to further my education to specifically become a women’s health provider and I wanted earn the best education,” said Freeman.  “I chose the WHNP program at Duke because of Duke’s reputation of excellence in healthcare & education and because of what the program offered, such as assistance with clinical placements, diverse clinical opportunities, clinical placements close to my home and the knowledgeable staff/professors.” 

The Duke WHNP program combines foundational knowledge with specialty information essential for the unique health needs of women. The comprehensive program incorporates reproductive and sexual healthcare for people, including all gender identities. Upon completing the program, graduates will have demonstrated the necessary competence to provide primary care and culturally sensitive reproductive healthcare with emphasis on health promotion, and evidence-based practice across settings. 

By focusing on gender-specific care, the WHNP program can help address health disparities that disproportionately affect women.  

“People are not the same and gender makes a difference in how the body responds. It differs in response to medications, to environment and stress, to food and even how we respond to cardiac disease,” said Dr. Trotter. “We are striving to help women or those assigned female at birth to attain their best health.” 

“The program provided me with an exceptional foundation, which was exactly what I needed to be successful as an advanced practice provider,” added Freeman. “It has helped me to become recognizable in the community, not only as a specialist in women’s health but also an advocate and patient educator.”  

Watch this video to hear more about the program directly from Dr. Trotter. 

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