Leah Jablonski '23, Nursing

Leah Jablonksi ‘23, a nursing major with two minors, International Studies and Honors, has family connections which brought her to Malone. 

“My mom came to Malone, and the potential double major with nursing and international studies here as well as staying relatively close to home was important to me,” said Jablonski. “I hope to explore outside of Ohio after graduation, so I wanted to be close during college. I want to do travel nursing after I graduate, and this combination of degrees is perfect for that. I looked at a few other schools and nowhere else seemed able to mesh my two interests together like Malone could.”

This ability to merge interests has provided Jablonski with a holistic education in both her area of interest and beyond. 

“Nursing clinicals have been a real highlight and really fun. At first, they were nerve wracking and it took some time for me to get comfortable and that was a fun challenge,” she said. “For my honors minor, I took Sex, Culture, and Language with T. C. Ham and that course was super interesting.”

While Malone took Jablonski a few hours from her hometown, she was able to go even further through the “Living and Learning” program. 

“For International Studies, nursing, and my honors thesis, I needed to do a cross-cultural experience, so I chose to triple dip by doing it over the summer,” she said. “I was originally planning to go to Guatemala to work in a hospital, but COVID impacted that plan. So Dr. Elizabeth Patterson Roe found out about the Living and Learning Program and discovered that I could receive clinical hours through that program. So I applied for a position in Ecuador and got accepted.”

Jablonski spent nine weeks in Ecuador, living, learning, and experiencing an all new culture. 

“I lived with a host family for half of the time, and I lived in apartments with other people from the US the rest of the time. I was the only student from Malone, but there were other school groups there for different internships, not just all nursing,” said Jablonski. “My placement was in Hospital San Francisco, and I was thoroughly immersed in Ecuadorian culture. I could walk to the hospital from my host home, and then when I got back my host mom would have something planned and I was really a part of their day-to-day life. My host family didn’t speak any English, so we had to completely communicate in Spanish which was a challenge but also a lot of fun!”

Some adjustments were bigger than others, such as buying day-to-day necessities at local shops. 

“There isn’t a set price for items when buying groceries or other essentials, so depending on the day and who’s checking you out, you can get charged different prices for the same items,” said Jablonski. “One time I was shopping and this older woman noticed that the shopkeeper was trying to overcharge me, and she stepped in and spoke Spanish on my behalf and even ended up paying for my groceries. She was so sweet and a complete stranger.”

Jablonski also earned valuable, and challenging, experience in the Ecuadorian medical system. 

“When I was in the hospital, I wasn’t doing a clinical rotation with one instructor like I would do in the States. In Ecuador, I floated around the floor with help from the nurses. Some processes happened quicker and some happened slower compared to my clinical experience in the States,” she said. “Sometimes procedures weren’t explained or I couldn’t understand the Spanish, but I was still able to make my way through it. I learned to draw blood, start an EKG, and gain other new skills.”

Despite hurdles due to language barriers, Jablonski rose to the challenge thanks to her preparation at Malone. 

“I felt confident because of my Malone foundation. I started an IV on a patient, and my nurse for the day gave me all the instructions in Spanish. I was having a hard time understanding her, so I took what I learned at Malone and applied it to that situation and it worked out great. If I didn’t have the nursing skill sets from Malone to fall back on I would have definitely felt less confident in performing tasks such as these abroad,” said Jablonski. 

Jablonski hopes to take the lessons learned from her first international nursing experience and continue traveling and serving after graduation, regardless of where she ultimately lands. 

“For a lot of travel nursing jobs you need experience prior to going abroad, so I’m not sure where I’ll end up. I want to precept in the ER or ICU in the spring and see how that goes, then if I fall in love with that I might pursue that path!”