Dr. Dennis Furlong, a Newfoundland native living in New Brunswick, was recently awarded the Canadian Medical Association's (CMA) 2012 Sir Charles Tupper Award for Political Action in recognition of his efforts to educate government, policy makers and the public on health issues and to advance healthy public policy.
The award ceremony was held last week as part of the association's 145th annual meeting in Yellowknife.
"The leadership of Dr. Furlong in advocating to governments for much-needed improvements to our country's health care system is a model for others to emulate," CMA president Dr. John Haggie said in a news release. "Physicians and the public both have greatly benefited from his unwavering conviction that one of the best ways to improve the health of Canadians is through strong public policy."
"I was warmly and humbly surprised when notified of this distinction by my peers in the CMA," said Furlong. "Along with my medical confreres in Canada, I have been blessed with a wonderful profession. I have been privileged to care for others who hold the medical profession in high esteem."
Furlong was a school teacher before returning to school to earn a medical degree from Memorial University in 1976. The following year he opened a rural family practice in Dalhousie, N.B.,
He served as president of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New Brunswick from 1985 to 1986 and the New Brunswick Medical Society from 1988 to 1989 before being appointed to the Premier's Council on Health Strategy from 1990 to 1993.
Furlong was elected to the New Brunswick provincial legislature in 1999 and served two years as minister of health and wellness and community services. He returned to his medical practice in 2003 and, two years later, was named to the Canadian Forces Base Gagetown herbicide spray investigation. He later was appointed chairman of the province's trauma system advisory committee, and served on the Premier's Round Table on Sustainability.
In 2011 he became chairman of a provincial committee on health services.
He has also been a physician member and preceptor for the McGill-Dalhousie medical program, a lecturer for the University of New Brunswick nursing faculty and a Canadian faculty member for the United Kingdom King's Fund Health Care Leadership Program.
In addition to all this, Furlong is a Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow and a recipient of the New Brunswick Medical Society Order of Merit. He received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from The University of New Brunswick in 2008 and is a CMA senior member.
Also an accomplished athlete, Furlong not only has won gold at the Canadian Senior Games, but has also won a National Research Council grant to do research and develop a ground contact monitoring device for Olympic race walking.
In July, 2010, he was induced into the Newfoundland and Labrador Athletics Association (NLAA) Hall of Fame to recognize his personal achievements as an athlete and valuable contributions as an administrator and official, in both his native Newfoundland and Labrador and where he now resides in New Brunswick.
Furlong’s success in track and field events began in St. John’s in the early 1950s when he set records in St. Bon’s sports days and Christian Brother track meets.
At age 17, he won seven events at the provincial championships and at the University of New Brunswick, he was undefeated in the quarter-mile and half- mile events for several years. He ran cross country in 1965 and 1966.
In 1966 and 1967, Furlong competed in the Atlantic indoor championships in Halifax and earned "athlete of the meet." He coached the 1969 Newfoundland and Labrador Canada Games track and field team, while doing well as an athlete in the decathlon. He was head coach again for the 1973 Canada Games.
A more complete biography can be found on the NLAA website at http://nlaa.ca/hall_of_fame/index.php?id=dennis_furlong.
His most recent award, the Sir Charles Tupper Award, was created to recognize physicians who demonstrate exemplary leadership, commitment and dedication to the cause of advancing the policies, views and goals of the CMA at the federal level.