Interview with Dr. Katherine Pereira, DNP - Faculty Coordinator of the Distance-Based FNP Program at Duke University

About Dr. Katherine Pereira, DNP, RN, FNP-BC, ADM-BC, FAAN, FAANP: Katherine Pereira is an Associate Professor at the School of Nursing, where she joined the faculty in 2005. As with all Nurse Practitioner faculty at Duke, Dr. Pereira has an active clinical practice and sees patients with diabetes and other endocrine disorders at the Duke Endocrinology Clinic. In addition to her FNP certification, she is board certified in Advanced Diabetes Management by the American Association of Diabetes Educators. She has taught Clinical Pharmacology for Advanced Practice in the Nurse Practitioner programs since 2006, and teaches Duke’s Advanced Diabetes Management elective courses. Dr. Pereira is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

Dr. Pereira received her BSN from the University of Virginia in 1982, her MSN with a specialization in Family Nurse Practitioner from Duke University School of Nursing in 2002, and her DNP from Duke University School of Nursing in 2012.

Interview Questions

[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] Could you please provide a brief overview of the distance-based Family Nurse Practitioner program that Duke University’s School of Nursing currently offers, and how it is structured?

[Dr. Pereira] We have been teaching our FNP students on-line for over 13 years now, so we are no stranger to on-line education. For many years we had an on-line cohort and an on-campus cohort, but found that many students wanted and needed the flexibility of online education options. In 2014 we moved our entire FNP program to distance based. We define distance based as a majority of the curriculum delivered online, with students travelling to our Durham, NC campus during four semesters of the program. Students travel to campus 3 times (2 days each visit) during the semester when they take Physical Assessment, and then for three additional On-Campus Intensive experiences (2-4 days in length) in subsequent semesters when they take the nurse practitioner clinical management courses. Students are responsible for their own housing during these visits. The On-Campus Intensive experiences, which we call the OCI, combines community building with hands-on and brains-on experiences, along with faculty interaction and experiences with several world-known thought and research leaders here at Duke University. We feel this combines the best of both worlds: on-line education created by our on-line education experts, and face to face high impact educational activities.

The MSN core courses are delivered entirely on-line, and these provide foundational content related to evidence based practice, statistical methods, population based health and the transition to the advanced practice nursing role.

Our FNP curriculum provides foundational knowledge in physiology, pathophysiology, advanced practice pharmacology and physical assessment, and progresses to management courses in primary care, care of the older adult, child and perinatal women. Students are required to take one elective from a wide array of clinical, writing and education focused courses.

[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] Can you give a brief overview of the program’s clinical residency requirements, and how Duke University’s School of Nursing integrates clinical placements into the curricula for its distance-based programs? Does Duke match students to their preceptors and clinical sites, or do they approve the clinical sites and preceptors that students find themselves?

[Dr. Pereira] The Duke FNP curriculum provides a total of 728 precepted clinical hours. Our clinical placement office handles all student matches with preceptors and clinical sites. To evaluate students’ progress during their clinical placements, our faculty members conduct both virtual and face to face site visits. Virtual site visits can include an evaluation of student progress through a virtual lab.

[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] Clinical placements are a major component of FNP programs and a considerable time commitment. How do you recommend students balance their clinical hours requirements with their other responsibilities outside of school, such as a job or personal commitments?

[Dr. Pereira] Graduate school is a time consuming choice that delivers outstanding returns of a highly satisfying and autonomous career as an advanced practice nurse. We have a full time and part time option for our FNP program, and students who work full time are encouraged to take classes part time. That said, most students need to decide where they are going to simplify their work and personal life in order to be successful in graduate school and give this career choice the time it deserves.

[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] What are some of the pros and cons of attending a graduate nursing program online? What support structures are in place within Duke’s distance-based graduate nursing programs to help online students not fall behind? What are the advantages of an online program as opposed to an on-campus program and vice versa?

[Dr. Pereira] Online graduate nursing programs provide adult learners with the flexibility needed to meet family and financial obligations while going to school. Our academic advisors meet with each new student to plan course progression and review strategies that set students up for success. In addition, course faculty meet with students virtually and by phone to discuss any concerns as needed, and our OCI experience also has built-in blocks of time for students to meet with faculty face to face while on campus.

[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] For registered nurses who are interested in Duke University’s distance-based nursing programs, what advice do you have for them regarding how they can submit a competitive application?

[Dr. Pereira] Explore the role of the nurse practitioner and specifically the settings and jobs where FNPs are employed. Shadow or talk with nurse practitioners to see what a “day in the life” of the role is really like. Competitive applicants are able to easily describe the role of the nurse practitioner. Review our curriculum and see if this sounds like something you could get excited about and spend large amounts of time studying. Think about your professional and personal attributes that would make you a good advanced practice nurse. We ask for professional references and we particularly like references from professionals that can speak to the attributes that would make you able to step into the advanced practice nurse role and handle master’s level academic work.

[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] What makes Duke University’s distance-based programs unique, and a particularly strong degree option for RNs who want to advance their career and become FNPs?

[Dr. Pereira] Duke University School of Nursing provides a distance based program taught by expert clinicians ranked 7th in the nation by US News and World Report. We have been successfully educating nurse practitioners for over a decade, and our curriculum arms our graduates with the tools to be competent, confident clinicians in a rapidly changing health care landscape. In addition, we offer optional global clinical experience opportunities for our NP students who wish to learn more about health care in other cultures.

[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] Does Duke University School of Nursing currently accept students from all 50 states for its distance-based graduate nursing programs?

[Dr. Pereira] Please contact our admissions office for up to date information on this.


Students who are interested in learning more about Duke University’s distance-based FNP programs can visit their website for the most up to date information.

Thank you Dr. Pereira for your time and insight into Duke University’s online FNP programs.


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About the Author: Kaitlin Louie is the Managing Editor of OnlineFNPPrograms.com, and creates informational content that aims to assist students in making informed decisions about graduate programs. She earned her BA & MA in English from Stanford University.