Dr Justin Coleman is a GP-writer who looks sceptically at health interventions where the evidence suggests they might not actually be worthwhile. This is part of his broader interest in the public health concept of equity – fair access to primary health care for everyone.
Despite earnest intentions, he frequently breaks out into lighter reflections on GP practice, with its quirks and oddities – often discovering the oddest person in the room is him!
Justin works in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health on the Tiwi Islands, north of Darwin.
Justin is co-editor of Australia’s largest selling medical textbook, Murtagh’s General Practice (7th edition and forthcoming 8th edition) and also co-editor of Murtagh’s Practice Tips.
Justin was Editor of the Diabetes Management Journal from 2018-20 and remains on its Editorial Board. He runs editing and writing workshops for medical writers, and medical workshops for doctors in his spare time.
He has edited over a million words for medical publication. He peer reviews for the BMJ, MJA and AFP medical journals, all of which have also published his research articles. He edits websites, including the National Heart Foundation and the Inala Indigenous Health Service.
Medical writing: Justin has been a freelance medical writer since 1996 and President of the Australasian Medical Writers Association (AMWA) from 2010-15. His freelance writing CV is found at AMWA.
He has published around 1500 articles in around 40 Australian and international newspapers, magazines and journals. He has authored six book chapters and four regular newspaper columns. He has won various awards for his medical writing and for his fictional short stories and a play.
Justin initiated and wrote the weekly GP Tips column in Medical Observer for its entire 13 years (1998-2011), wrote a twice weekly medical news column for GPs, still writes a monthly humorous column (six years so far). He writes and reviews GPlearning modules for the RACGP and National Asthma Council Australia, and writes the Diabetes chapter in each update of the National guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
TV, radio: Justin has featured on a number of TV shows, including the ABC’s 7.30 report and Channel 7’s Tonight. An example of an extended interview is on Starts at 60. He does a regular weekly medical talkback radio gig with the Novos and has been interviewed on radio around a hundred times around his medical areas of expertise. As a younger man (pre-medicine) he acted on TV, including two very forgettable episodes of Neighbours!
Qualifications: In addition to his medical degree (Uni of Melbourne, 1992) and FRACGP, Justin has completed a Masters in Public Health (Uni of Qld, 2009, first class honors) and a Writing and Editing course (Uni of Qld 2009, first class honors). Justin is a senior lecturer at both University of Queensland and Griffith University, and was an inaugural member of the Qld Health Clinical Senate. He assesses UQ and Griffith medical students and also clinically assesses Overseas-Trained Doctors for the NT Medical Board.
Talks, presentations: Justin is invited to give perhaps 20 talks and presentations each year. He is interviewed by print and radio journalists a few times each month. So far, his record is featuring in four articles in the one edition of MJA Insight (2 March 2015). Talks in 2016 include; RDAV16, RDAQ16, GP16, Allied Health Leadership Forum, UQ School of Pharmacy, Logan Hospital Grand Round, RACMA, Choosing Wisely Australia, GPRA16 (Future of General Practice) and Therapeutic Goods Advertising seminar.
Campaign – No Advertising Please: In 2014, Justin founded a campaign which encouraged doctors to avoid seeing visiting pharmaceutical representatives at their surgeries. He invited 25 other doctors, academics and health experts on board, and launched the No Advertising Please website at the RACGP conference in October 2014. The response was huge: the campaign featured on TV at the ABC’s 7.30 Report, and subsequently in almost 60 newspaper articles and radio programs in Australia and internationally.
The Naked Doctor and Choosing Wisely: Justin’s alter ego ‘The Naked Doctor’ blogs about the perils of over-testing and over-treatment on the Croakey health blog for Crikey.com. The Naked Doctor makes videos (unfortunately not medically titillating ones) for the NPS, wrote the RACGP submission (pdf) to the TGA and chairs the RACGP working group on the Choosing Wisely Australia campaign and the Transparency Working Group, aiming to ‘make transparent’ payments to doctors from pharmaceutical companies. He runs Choosing Wisely workshops for GPs (e.g. GP15), GP Registrars and consumers.
As a GP registrar, I am always amazed by doctors like yourself who wear so many hats, and seem to go above and beyond what is humanly possible in the 24 hours each person has a day just to help patients + their colleagues! How do you do it?!
Thank you for being you, seriously. =)
Thanks Nat. The trick is probably to avoid throwing yourself unreservedly into any one skill, to the exclusion of others.
I admire people who do that – and they make great experts in their field – but my personality type prefers to dabble in a bunch of things that interest me. Eventually, through self-selection over time, you can still get pretty good at them, although you can’t become a super-expert. It’s no coincidence that general practice suits me more than specialising!
I’ve also tried to arrange my life so that each of my interests is a little bit connected to the other; my writing helps my being a GP, and vice versa.
All the best with whatever your career holds for you.
Hi Dr Coleman
I had an episode with AHPRA that Dr Kerry Breen and any other Dr I spoke to about this felt it absolutely ridiculous
I cannot contact Australian Dr
Do you have any suggestions as to how I could have my account of this event read at least and then ? Published?
I’m afraid I have no great insights into getting people to read your account of your AHPRA episode.
You could ‘self-publish’ in the sense of a blog, or publish on someone else’s site (such as Australian Doctor), but in that case you would have to convince a journalist or publisher that it is a story that their readers would be interested in, and written to suit their style. If you wrote it yourself it would fit on the ‘Opinions’ page, and if a journalist wrote it, it would be news.
All publishers have some way of contacting them. Australian Doctor uses the page at https://www.ausdoc.com.au/form/contact
All the best! Cheers, Justin