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Women's Health Care Study Program
Frequently Asked Questions - General

When do the midwifery and nurse-practitioner programs start for full-time students?

The program for full-time students starts in MAY of each year. Part-time students can start in various semesters throughout the year.

If I am a new nurse who never practiced nursing before graduate school, will I have a difficult time finding my first job as a midwife or nurse-practitioner after I graduate?

Most graduates of the MSN have not experienced difficulty getting their first jobs without previous nursing experience. However, in some competitive marketplaces this could be a barrier to your first employment as a midwife or NP. We advise you to look broadly for your first job and not be too focused on one city or town. There are a few states that require nursing experience before granting an advanced practice license.

Will I have a say in the clinical site match?

We do try our best to match sites with the students' interest. We try to get volume and diversity for everyone during the gynecology, prenatal care and labor/ birth courses (if you are a midwife).  “Integration” is a final, comprehensive clinical course that can be related to a specialty interest that you might have. 

Will I need to have access to a car?

Your clinical sites may be located in Pennsylvania, New Jersey or Delaware.  Once you begin clinical courses, you must have access to a car. 

Where will I need to be registered as a nurse while in the WHCS program?

All Women's Health Care students need an active RN licensure in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey for clinical experiences during the program. 

Can I work during the program?

We do not encourage our students to work; however part time employment (1-2 nursing shifts per week) might be possible, depending on your family situation. If you are in the Midwifery program it is not possible to work during the labor/birth  and Integration courses because of your on-call schedule and your need for maximum flexibility to get to births.

Are there opportunities for international clinical experiences during the program?

Currently, there is an option for an international clinical experience available to midwifery students during the Integration clinical. Due to certification requirements, nurse-practitioner students do not have access to international clinical experiences during the program. 

Where will my clinical experiences be?

The WHCS program draws on a number of clinical sites primarily in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The reputation and long history of the WHCS program have led to a relationship with many out-patient and community based settings offering a wide variety of experiences for nurse practitioner and nurse-midwifery students. Additionally, nurse-midwifery students have access to teaching hospitals, community hospitals, birth centers and homebirth clinical experiences.

Will I be able to find a job after graduation?

Of course! There are nurse-practitioner and midwifery positions available all around the country. Sometimes, you may need to compromise on the geographic locale of your first job. During your education at Penn we will prepare you for the business side of practice, and also for effective job searching.

How can I become involved in research during school?

The Master of Science in Nursing at Penn is a very intensive course of study. Students who are interested in participating in the research process beyond what is required in their courses might assist faculty in a research project, or preparing an article for publication.

Students who enter the program with a great deal of experience in women's health may find that they have more time to work on research. Upon completion of the Masters degree, graduates interested in research are encouraged to enroll in Doctoral studies.

What type of salary can I expect?

Salary is highly dependent on geography and locale (small town versus big city). Another factor is whether the job is in private practice or in a publicly funded setting. Starting salaries right after graduation would typically range from $60,000 to 80,000. Salary is only one part of a good compensation package. We will teach you how to negotiate for a competitive employment package.

Where are recent graduates of Penn's WHCS Program currently practicing?

For the midwives: Recent midwifery graduates are working all over the country in private practices, hospital practices, birth centers, and home birth settings. Historically, our graduates have been committed to the care of under-served women and families in rural and inner-city communities. A number of midwifery graduates have established their own private practices. Some of our recent graduates have decided to work under their NP license, and are working in settings similar to those of our WHCNP graduates.

For the nurse-practitioners: Recent WHCNP graduates are working in family planning clinics such as Planned Parenthood, private OB/GYN offices, hospital clinics, infertility clinics, urogynecology practices, STD clinics, and in research. Some graduates are employed in their own private NP practices.

What employment opportunities are available for students who pursue the Perinatal Clinical Nurse Specialist option along with their primary program?

The perinatal CNS is usually employed by a hospital or by a perinatal specialist to work with high-risk maternity patients as in-patients or out-patients. They also may work in positions as educators for health systems, training and providing on-going professional development to the staff.

Midwifery - Specific FAQ

How does the dual major work for the midwives?

Graduates of the Midwifery program have two majors listed on their transcript. They are eligible to take national exams for certification as both Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs) and Women's Health Care Nurse-Practitioners (WHCNPs). Depending on the state in which you want to practice, you will then seek licensure appropriate to the position you are accepting. We find this provides greater flexibility and opportunity in the job market.

Women's Health Care Nurse-Practitioners - Specific FAQ

If I decide to come back to Penn and become a midwife, how is this arranged?

If you would like to return and become a midwife you would need to petition the Director of the Midwifery Program. You would need to take an additional four courses.