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Join the Conversation About Women’s Health

Discussing Womens Health

Engage in activities and browse resources related to this important specialty.

Many nurse practitioners (NPs) realize from a young age that they want to be nurses. And some, like this year’s Towers Pinnacle Award recipient, Kahlil Demonbreun, DNP, RNC-OB, WHNP-BC, ANP-BC, FAANP, FAAN, knew they would become not just nurses but NPs specializing in women’s health. “I felt comfortable with the population of women as opposed to men and children...I just knew I should be a women’s health NP,” he recently told the American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP).

If you, like Demonbreun, have chosen a career as a women’s health nurse practitioner (WHNP), are curious about specializing in women’s health or are interested in accessing new and exciting research about the specialty, AANP has resources, a community and a new, accredited podcast — featuring 1.25 contact hours of continuing education credit — devoted to caring for women patients.

Concentrating on Women’s Health in May

May is National Women’s Health Awareness Month, with observances taking place all month long. Organizations including the Office on Women’s Health (OWH), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) are debuting new content devoted to the latest information concerning women’s health for providers like NPs who primarily or exclusively see female patients.

The CDC includes a guide with subsections dedicated to remaining physically active, prioritizing mental health and other activities. The OWH’s resources include a toolkit with social media shareables, fact sheets and profiles of NWHW Ambassadors, and the NIEHS has a Women’s Health Awareness Community Engagement Program, which “utilizes a range of community-based participatory research, engagement and implementation science methodologies to design, assess and improve the program and evidence base on environmental public health issues impacting underrepresented, understudied, underreported and underserved women.”

Ambassador Janine A. Clayton, MD, FARVO, the director of the NIH office of research on women’s health, states: “Women disproportionally assume the role of caregiver for others in their lives, including the young, old, injured and sick. National Women’s Health Week [which takes place during National Women’s Health Awareness Month on May 12-18] is a great week to remind us all and for women to make sure we prioritize our own health and well-being, including taking actions, such as eating a healthy diet, scheduling an annual checkup, and making a concerted effort to be more active.”

Stream a Podcast Dedicated to Women’s Health

The most recent episode of NP Pulse: The Voice of the Nurse Practitioner® is dedicated to the subject of women’s health, and is divided into two parts, with the first released on May 15 and the second slated for May 29. Featuring Nancy Berman, MSN, ANP-BC, ANP-BC, MSCP, FAANP, Lisa Chism, DNP, APRN, BC, CSC, NCMP, CBCN, FAAN, FAANP, and Kahlil Demonbreun, DNP, RNC-OB, WHNP-BC, ANP-BC, FAANP, FAAN, the podcast is entitled Prioritizing Women's Health: Screening Recommendation Updates for NPs and features these hosts discussing “key updates in women’s health-related testing guidelines including cervical cancer screening and testing, osteoporosis and breast health.”

Berman begins the conversation with Demonbreun by discussing cervical cancer screening and human papillomavirus (HPV). About HPV, Berman notes that “HPV is common, is ubiquitous...most everyone’s infected, most everyone clears to levels that are no longer detected, but we’re using a new term now, which is the term ‘reactivation.’” She brings up the situation in which “a woman who is monogamous in a relationship [that is] long term...suddenly her HPV test is positive.” Berman notes that NPs should be able to explain this “reactivation”: “We need to be able to counsel that woman and say that doesn’t mean it’s new — it could be decades-old, it could be a very old infection that reactivated.”

When asked about what information on breast health she would like to impart to listeners of the podcast, Chism also centers on debunking common — but incorrect — ideas patients may have. “Despite breast health being one of the areas that we have some of the best screening for, there’s still a lot of myths. I echo Nancy [Berman’s] words that this is an area where NPs can really make a difference, because of the lack of education about breast health and breast screening.”

Of these myths, Chism notes that, “I have folks who still are concerned about radiation exposure with mammogram, and what we know is there is no data to date that that has caused a problem for women — that it’s equivalent to about seven weeks exposure to the outside environment, or 13,000 feet in a plane, from both either the plane or the environment. So, when your patients are concerned about radiation, help them understand that it really is okay for them to get an annual mammogram.”

More Ways to Serve Women Patients

AANP has many resources for NPs related to women’s health, including practice briefs; tools for helping patients reach lipid targets, discussions of menopause, aging and other subjects; and external resources related to ovarian cancer and noncyclic chronic pelvic pain treatments. Finally, consider joining AANP’s Women’s Health Community. This community is available exclusively to AANP members, and features an online forum, opportunities to exchange information with other NPs, access to document sharing and more. For an opportunity to speak with Kahlil Demonbreun at the 2024 AANP National Conference, stop by the AANP Education’s Podcast Corner on Friday, June 28 at 2 p.m. at the AANP Plaza in the Exhibit Hall.