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Jennifer Spahn, Excellence in GBMC Nursing

June 17, 2019
For 17 years, Jennifer Spahn, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, Clinical Program Manager for the Nurse Residency Transition to Practice Program in the Baetjer Center for Nursing Excellence, has been committed to seeing fellow nurses succeed. Her hard work and dedication paid off, as she was honored this April as one of seven GBMC HealthCare nurses to be recognized in Baltimore magazine’s 2019 "Excellence in Nursing" issue.

Over 12 years at GBMC, Jennifer has guided novice nurses through their first years of clinical practice with patience and proficiency. Starting out serving as a resource for new graduates working night shift in a nurse education role, Jennifer enjoyed ensuring they felt supported. Educating others allowed her to ensure first-year employees felt empowered and confident in their roles.

During all those years educating others, it wasn't until she was working as a Nurse Educator for the Medical Surgical Unit that she considered going back to school herself.

Jennifer Spahn, MSN, RN, NEA-BC
Jennifer Spahn, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, Clinical Program Manager for the Nurse Residency Transition to Practice Program in the Baetjer Center for Nursing Excellence
"My director, Lynn Marie Bullock, was really encouraging me to go back to school," Jennifer said. "I had all this on-the-job experience and great mentors here from our education specialists, but I was missing this whole other piece of the business aspect of healthcare. I knew I wanted to grow into more of an administrative role in education, so it was sort of the best of both worlds to be able to do education and administration."

In 2012, she completed a Master of Science in Nursing degree with a focus on administration and leadership at Notre Dame of Maryland University and said the experience not only gave her the administrative experience she was missing, but also allowed her to "give back" to GBMC through her work.

"I incorporated all of my schoolwork into my nurse educator role because I wanted to make sure everything I was doing for school was not just something to check the box. I really tried to make it meaningful for my practice at GBMC," Jennifer said.

When she began her newest role running the Nurse Residency Transition to Practice Program for all new graduates and their mentors – known in the nursing world as preceptors – she was able to apply much of her new knowledge firsthand. As important as Jennifer understands education to be, she said her master's degree would have been more challenging to complete without the support and assistance she received from GBMC, such as the Baetjer Center for Nursing Excellence Scholarship.

Fundraising events like the second annual Samuel F. Heffner Jr. Memorial Clay Shoot, hosted May 20 at First Mine Run, support the H. Norman Baetjer Jr. and Jeanne H. Baetjer Center for Nursing Excellence at GBMC, an area near and dear to the late Philanthropy Committee chair, Sam Heffner's, heart as well as his former wife's, who was a nurse.

The Baetjer Center for Nursing Excellence supports nurses at all points in their career, promoting lifelong learning and quality patient care by using evidence-based practice and the latest technology to give nurses the tools to treat patients with the best care. One of the ways they do this is through scholarships for continuing education. Part of Jennifer's job is leading a team of education specialists in conducting more than 30 evidence-based projects annually to enhance nursing practice to align with the vision of the organization.

All of this work would not be possible without community support.

Personal experience made it easy for Jennifer to see the benefits of scholarships and other assistance programs GBMC offers, like the T. Rowe Price Family Education Fund Scholarship. But being a beneficiary, she is able to put into perspective for the nurses she mentors just how unique these programs are to GBMC.

GBMC's dedicated staff team is just one factor in the Nurse Residency Transition to Practice Program's recent attainment of accreditation with distinction, the highest level of recognition for this program worldwide from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). GBMC is the only hospital in Baltimore to receive it.

This is an important message to convey to nurses looking for jobs in the area because, according to Jennifer, most new nurses are looking to grow within the first two years of their careers. Having pathways and opportunities for them is paramount to retention, a focus area of the nursing program.

Jennifer's personal experience going back to school and professional expertise conveying GBMC resources is GBMC's hidden treasure, and allows Jennifer to do what drew her to education roles more than a decade ago: helping fellow nurses succeed and advance in the nursing profession.
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