Posted on Nov 9, 2017

Preceptor Spotlight Series: Carla Duff, MSN, ARNP

Preceptor Spotlight Series: Carla Duff, MSN, ARNP

Ask USF College of Nursing graduate student Angel Swilley about her preceptorship experience and she has nothing but the highest praise for her mentor, Carla Duff.

Swilley describes Duff, MSN, ARNP, as someone “born to be a teacher,” one who “goes out of her way to educate.”

“She is the epitome of what I want to be to my patients,” said Swilley, a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) student who is pursuing a concentration in pediatric health. “She is compassionate, knowledgeable in her field, and creates a rapport with her patients the minute she walks in the door. She is a strong advocate for her patients and I would trust anyone I know in her care.”

Duff, who has been a preceptor since graduating with a Master of Science in Nursing from USF in 2010, is elated to hear she is making a difference.

 “It’s our jobs to teach, to have really well-educated nurse practitioners,” said Duff, who is a pediatric asthma and allergy specialist at the USF clinic at the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Outpatient Care Center in St. Petersburg.

Duff said as a preceptor, she doesn’t expect her students to know the specialized field of pediatric asthma and immunology. Instead, she teaches them to recognize symptoms, to know when a case is outside their scope of knowledge, and to know when to refer a patient to a specialist.

The goal is to give students exposure and experience, which gives them a frame of reference for future patients. As a result, they don’t feel overwhelmed once they go into private practice, she said.

“We’re starting them out to succeed. Hopefully, I’m a little part of their success,” Duff said.

Now that the roles are reversed, Duff said she tries to take the best parts from her preceptor experience as a nursing student at the College of Nursing – lessons she carries with her almost 10 years later – and tries to emulate what she was taught by mentors.

At the beginning of the preceptorship, Duff has students shadow her and watch how she evaluates patients. Then Duff starts letting students take the lead, so they will present the cases to her, describe a treatment plan, and explain what tests should be ordered.

 “By the time they leave, I want them to be comfortable doing a good history. I think they learn best by doing it,” Duff said. “I love teaching. I really do. I love the teaching and I always feel like I learn as much as I teach.”

Swilley credits Duff with helping her learn the specialized field of pediatric allergy and immunology.

 “I knew very little about the asthma, allergies, and eczema triad, and after a few short weeks, I felt confident going into a room to assess, evaluate, and plan for patients with these commonly seen illnesses,” she said.


Story by Elizabeth L. Brown, USF College of Nursing