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Supporting Professional Advancement in Nursing (SPAN) Program

Recruitment for the SPAN Program has closed. The Program is no longer accepting applications.

What is SPAN?

The SPAN (Supporting Professional Advancement in Nursing) program is an exciting opportunity funded by the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) for talented pre-licensure nursing students who are committed to pursuing advanced graduate studies in nursing in the near future. SPAN is an academic-practice partnership that begins with students’ final clinical practicum and continues for 3 years post-graduation. Students complete their final clinical practicum which is part of the Integrated Clinical Management: Synthesis Practicum course at one of 5 partner sites, are matched depending on their clinical interests. They are mentored by a full-time nurse preceptor on their assigned unit and will take the NCLEX exam upon successful completion of their pre-licensure degree.

After passing the NCLEX exam, participants will enter the next stage of the SPAN program, in which they are hired by the health care facility where they completed their practicum and begin full-time work as a registered nurse. Participants must meet all hiring criteria established by the employer and must commit to working for 1 year full-time on the unit*, followed by two years of employment either part time, or with the option of continued full-time work on the unit. New nurse graduates will then apply to an advanced graduate nursing program during their first year of work and will be expected to attend graduate school full or part-time while working during years 2 and 3 of the program. Upon completion of the program, participants will have obtained an advanced graduate degree and will be qualified to obtain nurse leadership positions.     

This is a highly competitive program available exclusively to JHSON students who are committed to pursuing graduate studies in nursing in the next 1-2 years.

Students accepted to the program will complete their Integrated Clinical Management: Synthesis Practicum course at, and then be hired by, 1 of 4 Maryland area health care facilities. Our SPAN partner institutions are:

  • The Johns Hopkins Hospital
  • Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center
  • Sibley Memorial Hospital, Washington DC
  • Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital

Information about SPAN placements available for Spring 2020 can be viewed here.

What will participants gain?

  • Work experience while obtaining an advanced level nursing degree.
  • Be accepted into an elite and competitive program funded by the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) to increase the number of qualified nurses in Maryland-area hospitals and other health care facilities with advanced nursing degrees.
  • Career placement in your desired area of nursing practice. Proceed directly to the workforce upon graduation. You are preferred to be hired by the facility where you completed your transitions placement assuming you meet all of its hiring and performance criteria.
  • Mentorship—One-on-one ongoing support and guidance beyond graduation with an experienced nurse at your place of employment and a faculty mentor at JHSON who will help you articulate your goals to complete your graduate nursing degree.
  • Built in support to balance work and school. Your employer has already agreed to support you as you pursue your advanced nursing degree.
  • Take advantage of tuition assistance benefits from your employer to help pay for graduate school.
  • Benefit from access to free online learning modules. Modules are tailored to provide solutions to professional challenges and suggestions on areas for growth that new nurses may encounter upon entering the workforce.

Criteria for admission

  • Be in your final semester at JHSON
  • Have a minimum 3.5 GPA
  • Be committed to return to school within 12-18 months of graduating from JHSON to pursue an advanced nursing degree
  • Successfully interview with SPAN selection committee and nurse managers from partner health care facility
  • Satisfy hiring criteria mandated by partner institution
  • Be committed to your employer and the program for three years
  • While not required, CNE or related health care clinical work experience and/or experience working with desired unit population is a plus

How can I apply?

Before applying to the SPAN Program be certain to review our FAQs. To be considered for the program you must first indicate on your Synthesis course application that you are also applying to the SPAN Program. Then you must submit a completed application by midnight, October 17, 2019. Your application must include:   

1) SPAN Questionnaire

2) Resume

3) Essay

Essays should be 1-2 pages, single-spaced, and typed. Essays longer than specified will not be read beyond the second page. Your essay should address why you became a nurse, why you are interested in SPAN and describe your career and graduate school goals. You should include when and where you plan to attend graduate school and your clinical practice area(s) and/or nursing units of interest. If you have a preference to be placed at any of the partner institutions, include that information as well and why this/these placement(s) interest you. 

4) Recommendations

You will need 3 references to apply to the SPAN Program. These include two (2) letters of recommendation AND a completed nurse preceptor reference form (no letter required). References should submit letters of recommendation that address why you are a strong candidate for the SPAN program, and should refer to your academic aptitude, performance in clinical or work settings, professionalism, and readiness to be successful as an advanced nursing graduate student in their recommendation letter.

  • One recommendation letter MUST be from a supervisor at a place of employment where you worked for at least 6 months.
  • One recommendation letter MUST be from a clinical instructor (clinical faculty member) at JHSON who has worked with you in skills labs and/or clinical settings and is familiar with your clinical performance, and ideally your academic performance, too. The person completing this letter may not be the same person who fills out the nurse preceptor form (below). If you are applying for a unit that is considered critical care (ICUs, ED, OR/PACU, and Labor and Delivery/Maternal Child Health then your second recommendation letter must be from your Complex Health Alterations Clinical Instructor. Please see the table below for more information.
  • The nurse preceptor form can be filled out by a registered nurse with whom you have been paired during a clinical day or shift in semesters 1-4 of the MEN program. This person may be a JHSON clinical course coordinator, JHSON clinical instructor or may be a nurse employed at any hospital where you completed clinical hours since beginning nursing school. The important part is that they have observed you in a clinical setting, and worked with you for at least one entire shift. The person completing the preceptor form may not be the same person who writes a recommendation letter for you. Please note if you are applying for a Labor & Delivery/Maternal Child Health placement  or Pediatric ICU then your preceptor form must be filled out by the clinical  instructor or preceptor specified in the the table below:

References who are writing a letter of recommendation should go to this link, answer the questions, and upload their letters of recommendation through the website no later than midnight, October 17, 2019. An optional third recommendation from another JHSON clinical instructor, or from a supervisor who is familiar with your work as a CNE or your related health care clinical work experience will be considered by the selection committee. References who will be completing the preceptor form should go this link, and answer the questions no later than midnight, October 17, 2019.  

References writing a letter of recommendation should use this form

Nurse references filling out the nurse preceptor form on your behalf should use this form

5) Signed Memorandum of Understanding

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

The selection process

All applications will be reviewed by the selection committee on a first come, first served basis. Students are encouraged to get their applications in as soon as possible for the best chance at being considered. Finalists will be selected based on the content of their applications, their clinical interests and desired employer(s), and the number of spaces and types of clinical placements available. Preference will be given to applicants who will be pursuing an advanced level nursing degree at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. If selected as a finalist, you will be invited in for an interview with the SPAN selection committee at the JHSON and then interview with nurse manager(s) from the partner institution prior to the start of the Synthesis course practicum. These practicum experiences will translate to post-graduation employment offers provided the student believes the unit to be a good fit, and vice versa and the student meets all hiring and performance criteria. 

Application deadline for Spring 2020 cohort

Midnight, October 17, 2019.

Letters of recommendation from references are due no later than October 17, 2019. Requests for extensions must be requested at least 2 days before this deadline.


More information

Sarah Firestone, SPAN Program Manager

View our FAQ

*SPAN Participants placed at Johns Hopkins Hospital and Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center work for two years full-time with the option of part-time work in their third year of employment.

The SPAN Program is produced with the assistance of a Nurse Support II Program grant #16-112 under the auspices of the Health Services Cost Review Commission. Opinions, findings, and conclusions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the Health Services Cost Review Commission, and no official endorsement should be inferred.