Anne Ehrlich

(India, 1979)

Anne Ehrlich was new to nursing when she helped deliver primary health care to people in rural Indian. It was an unforgettable introduction to nursing that continues to inspire her work as a university professor today.

By Kate Wilson

Crossroader Anne Ehrlich was a newly graduated nurse when she went to India in 1979. Helping to deliver primary health care to people in a rural village provided her with an unforgettable introduction to nursing that continues to inspire her work today.

“Oh it was unbelievable,” recalls Ehrlich. “I was such a novice and so inexperienced. I really learned just how rich the services were there in terms of prevention and also in terms of providing essential services.”

“I just learned what was meant by primary health care,” says Ehrlich, noting that her placement followed the World Health Organization’s declaration on primary health care by one year.

“I left with a very positive experience,” says Ehrlich. “Seeing what people could do in incredibly adverse circumstances and how incredibly powerful people were in terms of overcoming very challenging obstacles in their lives.”

She has carried on the interest in international and community health care that was fostered during her Crossroader experience. Immediately following her CCI placement, she went to work with Mother Theresa in Calcutta. She later worked in Africa for eight years on community health care projects.

“It was a pivotal experience that led into others and that I have been able to build on.”

As an associate professor at McMaster University, Ehrlich works with students who are following in her footsteps to work in international health care. She finds herself drawing on lessons she has learned through CCI in her teaching.

“The value of Crossroads is that I learned a lot about cross-cultural exchange and how important it is to learn about the culture before you go there and try to be immersed in it.” Ehrlich says. “It really takes a lot of energy and a lot of resources by the recipient country if you haven’t got a specific skills or set of experience; then it is truly an exchange. There is a lot of opportunity for a lot of learning so we just need to build that [preparation] into projects.”


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