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John Murtagh AO

MBBS, MD, BSc, BEd, FRACGP, DipObstRCOG

Emeritus Professor in General Practice, School of Primary Health Care, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria

Professorial Fellow, Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria

Adjunct Clinical Professor, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Notre Dame, Fremantle, Western Australia

John Murtagh was a science master teaching chemistry, biology and physics in Victorian secondary schools when he was admitted to the first intake of the newly established Medical School at Monash University, graduating in 1966. Following a comprehensive postgraduate training program, which included surgical registrarship, he practised in partnership with his medical wife, Dr Jill Rosenblatt, for 10 years in the rural community of Neerim South, Victoria.

Dr Murtagh was appointed Senior Lecturer (part-time) in the Department of Community Medicine at Monash University and eventually returned to Melbourne as a full-time Senior Lecturer. He was appointed to a professorial chair in Community Medicine at Box Hill Hospital in 1988 and subsequently as chairman of the extended department and Professor of General Practice in 1993 until retirement from this position in 2000. He now holds teaching positions as Emeritus Professor in General Practice at Monash University, Adjunct Clinical Professor, University of Notre Dame and Professorial Fellow, University of Melbourne. He combines these positions with part-time general practice, including a special interest in musculoskeletal medicine. He achieved the Doctor of Medicine degree in 1988 for his thesis ‘The management of back pain in general practice’.

Professor Murtagh was appointed Associate Medical Editor of Australian Family Physician in 1980 and Medical Editor in 1986, a position held until 1995. In 1995 he was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia for services to medicine, particularly in the areas of medical education, research and publishing.

Murtagh’s Practice Tips, one of Professor Murtagh’s numerous publications, was named as the British Medical Association’s Best Primary Care Book Award in 2005. In the same year, he was named as one of the most influential people in general practice by the publication Australian Doctor. John Murtagh was awarded the inaugural David de Kretser medal from Monash University for his exceptional contribution to the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences over a significant period of time. Members of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners may know that he was bestowed the honour of the namesake of the College library.

Today John Murtagh continues to enjoy active participation with the diverse spectrum of general practitioners—whether they are students or experienced practitioners, rural- or urban-based, local or international medical graduates, clinicians or researchers. His vast experience with all of these groups has provided him with tremendous insights into their needs, which is reflected in the culminated experience and wisdom of Murtagh’s General Practice.

Justin Coleman

MBBS, FRACGP, MPH (Hons 1)

General Practitioner, Wurrumiyanga, Tiwi Islands NT

Senior Lecture, Flinders University

Editor, Diabetes Management Journal

Chair of Choosing Wisely working group, RACGP

Justin Coleman graduated from Melbourne University in 1992 and has spent half his career as a rural GP in Victoria and the remote Northern Territory, and the other half in Brisbane, working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

Soon after graduating, Justin began writing for the GP newspaper Medical Observer and hasn’t stopped since. One of his weekly columns, ‘Handy Hints for GPs’, ran for 13 years. He even wrote 50 humorous columns until the editors lost their sense of humour.

Justin is a prolific writer for medical and non-medical readerships; he has published well over 1000 medical articles in around 50 different newspapers, magazines, books and journals. For five years he served as President of the Australasian Medical Writers Association and he regularly runs writing workshops for medical writers and academics.

Since completing a Master of Public Health (UQ 2011, first class hons), Justin has dedicated much of his career to educating other GPs about how to improve various aspects of medical practice. His interests include evidence-based medicine, the rational use of medical tests and treatments, and dealing with uncertainty during a GP consultation. He represents the RACGP on matters pertaining to conflicts of interest and fiercely guards his own independence, never having accepted payment from a pharmaceutical or medical device company.

For the past quarter of a century, Justin has supervised hundreds of medical students and GP registrars. He has taught in the medical schools of four universities and for a dozen medical education organisations.

Justin edited his first medical book 20 years ago and has remained a medical editor ever since. He completed a Writing and Editing program in 2010 (UQ, first class hons). He currently edits Diabetes Management Journal, writes and does peer reviews for the MJA, AJGP and BMJ, and is a member of the Australasian Health and Medical journal Editors’ Network (AHMEN).

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