Alumni Interview with Amanda Davis, MSN, ARNP, FNP-C – Duke University

About Amanda Davis, MSN, ARNP, FNP-C: Amanda Davis is a Family Nurse Practitioner at Premise Health in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, as well as an Instructor and Team Coordinator for the FNP program at the University of South Florida. Before relocating to Florida, she worked for Piedmont Healthcare at an Internal Medicine practice in Atlanta, Georgia, first as a Staff Registered Nurse, then as a Family Nurse Practitioner. Prior to that, Ms. Davis was an RN at Gwinnett Medical Center for three years, working in the Oncology and Renal Services Department.

Ms. Davis earned a BA in Psychology from Saint Leo University in 2003, and her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from Mercer University in 2011. She earned an MSN with a focus in Family Nurse Practitioner from Duke University’s online graduate nursing program in 2014.

Interview Questions

[] May we please have a brief description of your educational and professional background in nursing?

[Amanda Davis, MSN, ARNP, FNP-C] After securing a BA in Psychology from Saint Leo University, I enrolled at Georgia Baptist College of Nursing at Mercer University to secure a BSN. After earning my BSN, I pursued a MSN at Duke University and will be starting my PhD program at the University of Florida in Fall 2017. After securing my MSN FNP from Duke University, I began working in an Internal Medicine practice with Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta, GA and later worked at the Center for Living Well with Premise Health in Lake Buena Vista, FL. Having a passion for education, I left Atlanta to accept a position with the University of South Florida as an Instructor and hospital Team Coordinator. As an Instructor, I have the privilege of teaching RN-BS, pre-licensure undergraduate nurses and MSN NP students.

[] What motivated you to pursue your MSN online? What advantages did you see to online education? Did Duke’s online program meet these expectations?

[Amanda Davis, MSN, ARNP, FNP-C] As a working adult with a full-time position, I needed a program that was flexible in format and thus an online program was of great appeal. After researching the many online programs nationwide, I was hard-pressed to find a program that matched the superiority of Duke’s program. As an online program, I needed a program that provided support to students, assisted with clinical placement and ensured that material was provided to students in a manner that was clear, precise and based upon the most current evidence-based practice guidelines. Duke’s program surpassed my expectations and fulfilled each requirement posed during my search.

[] How did Duke University’s online platform enable you to interact with faculty members and classmates? Were courses asynchronous, synchronous, or a combination of both? How often did you interact with faculty, and did you feel that your instructors were accessible to online students?

[Amanda Davis, MSN, ARNP, FNP-C] Duke’s platform, Sakai, allowed for interaction at all levels (faculty, staff and classmates) by several means – using collaborative video sessions, messaging, discussion posts and content driven modules. Courses were delivered asynchronous, which was extremely helpful for those of us on different schedules in different time zones across the country. If group projects were required, they were worked on each asynchronously, unless group members decided upon a mutually convenient scheduled time.

Interaction with faculty was completed at least once weekly, sometimes more if my needs required more interaction. EVERY faculty member was extremely responsive to requests and were highly accessible to me during the program – that connection was undoubtedly one of my favorite aspects of the Duke online FNP program.

[] Duke’s online MSN program requires students to make a limited number of visits to the campus for labs and on-campus intensives. What activities and events were included in these on-campus sessions?

[Amanda Davis, MSN, ARNP, FNP-C] When initially researching potential programs, the on-campus intensives were considered to be a downfall, as these meetings would increase my cost of attendance based on travel expenses. However, after speaking to faculty at Duke, I realized the rationale for these intensives and felt they would enhance my education – which proved to be absolutely true.

Each intensive brought different experiences, all of which were fruitful and necessary. One intensive allowed us to work with standardized patients to have hands-on experience with pelvic and prostate exams – something we would not have been able to experience without these intensives. Other experiences were completed in the simulation lab, allowing us to practice procedures prior to performing them in clinical, thus improving healthcare outcomes for those we served in clinical.

[] What were the major pros and cons of pursuing your graduate nursing degree online? What challenges did you encounter throughout your completion of the online program, and how did you address them? On the flip side, what did you enjoy most about completing your MSN degree online?

[Amanda Davis, MSN, ARNP, FNP-C] Major pros: having the content delivered asynchronously, working with professionals across the country, learning from the leading minds in the profession and having the opportunity to attend an amazing University without uprooting my family and career across state lines. Major cons: not having the social interaction of sitting in a classroom and learning from peers.

I did not encounter any challenges during my completion of the program. The most enjoyable part of learning online was interacting and networking with faculty and other classmates throughout the program. These relationships remain strong after graduation and have been utilized in my professional development as a FNP. Working alongside such a diverse population provided viewpoints that I may not have ever had the pleasure to hear, had I gone to a traditional program in my local area.

[] Clinical practicums are a major component of graduate nursing education. Can you briefly describe how Duke University handles clinical placements for online students? Can you elaborate on your experiences in your clinical practicum rotations and what were some key takeaways from your rotations that you feel helped you successfully make the transition from being a registered nurse to being a health care provider?

[Amanda Davis, MSN, ARNP, FNP-C] Duke, unlike other programs, actually locates your clinical placements for you. This was a massive advantage, as I was located in Atlanta – a city with many other schools vying for clinical placement. Instead of having to find my own preceptors, Duke easily found them for me and all I had to do was show up. I heard the complaints of disgruntled students from other online programs at clinical sites noting how difficult placement was when you had no connections, so having Duke find sites for me was a phenomenal advantage.

Each clinical practicum brought forth a different viewpoint in medicine. I was privileged to work with physicians and practitioners during my experiences – all bringing a diverse background to the clinical setting allowing me to see differing perspectives. One must be open minded when working with preceptors, not everything is completed in the same manner and thus each experience will be different. Walking in to each clinical rotation with an open mind will open more doors for you in the future – don’t shut those doors before walking through them!

[] What advice would you give students just starting Duke’s online MSN program? More broadly, what advice would you give students who are just starting or considering an online MSN program, whether it be at Duke or another institution?

[Amanda Davis, MSN, ARNP, FNP-C] Duke’s program is tough – as a NP program should be, but you’ll learn tons of material and it truly is worth the work! When considering an institution, make sure you have reviewed their objectives for you and you are aware of all of the details – finding preceptors, on-campus time, asynchronous vs synchronous participation. The more you know about the program, the better experience you will have. Don’t forget to reach out to your resources as well should you need them – don’t bury yourself in material, get help when you need it instead of waiting. Online learning is very different – you must be quite self-directed, so the more contact you have with faculty and classmates, the more you’ll feel connected.

Thank you, Ms. Davis, for participating in our alumni interview series, and sharing your experience as an online FNP student!

About the Author: Jake Ravani is an Editor at, and has been writing about educational trends and online degree programs since 2010. He earned his BA in English from UC Santa Cruz.