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University | 23
By Melissa Lombard
Charles Furlotte left the Maritimes for Ottawa four years ago
to pursue a master's in Social Work (MSW) and a keen
interest in the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). He is
now working in clinical practice at the Ottawa Hospital,
researching, and teaching.
"As a gay man living in the Maritimes I had a lot of myths
regarding HIV/AIDS that I needed to dispel. I felt I needed
to meet and work with people living with HIV in an urban
context to do this."
At Mount Allison Furlotte's interest was in the psychology of
aging. He initially thought he would like to work in geron-
tology, but through social work found an outlet to explore
both community-based work and research. During his
MSW he discovered he could blend his interest in aging and
HIV by researching men and women over age 50 who were
living with the disease. Currently older adults make up
approximately 15 per cent of people living with HIV in
Canada and this number is expected to grow drastically as
people with HIV join the aging population.
Furlotte credits Mount Allison with preparing him well for
his research career. During his undergrad he completed sev-
eral research projects on campus and worked two summers
in Dr. Odette Gould's Adult Development and Aging
Research Program.
"Those experiences gave me a foot in the door for research
and provided a seamless transition to higher-level academic
work," he says.
He has also managed and coordinated research with the
HIV and Hepatitis C Prevention Research Team in the
Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine at
the University of Ottawa. Along with an interdisciplinary
team of seven people, Furlotte has helped to facilitate
research projects aimed at reducing the risk of HIV and
Hepatitis C transmission among men and women who use
injection drugs. The team conducts evaluations of harm-
reduction programs in Ontario -- a pragmatic approach to
drug use that equates to providing people with enough
sanitary equipment to stay safe.
In 2009 he recognized the need for a balance between
performing research and working with people. He decided
to take on a position as a clinical social worker in the emer-
gency department of the Ottawa Hospital -- Canada's
largest teaching hospital -- where he helps patients and
families navigate the health care system. He has recently
transitioned into full-time clinical work across two hospital
campuses in various departments, including general medi-
cine and the intensive care unit.
"A large percentage of the time I am working with addiction
at the hospital, so the research I do really allows me to put
knowledge translation into practice right away," he says.
To add to his workload, he was approached to teach a
master's level class at Carleton University.
"After that experience, I'm pretty confident that teaching is
what I want to do with my life," he says. "I have realized that
it is a nice way to combine all of my interests."
Furlotte plans to continue his work in research and clinical
practice, with an eye on further education and teaching.
"Social work is a career that lends itself to life-long learning
and I'm passionate about connecting research to practice
and public health policy. I can see my future consisting of all
those things."
Social work is a
career that lends
itself to life-long