Professor John Murtagh always wanted to be a scientist. While studying at Melbourne University, he extended his interest to teaching science, in particular the biological sciences and chemistry, which led him directly to an interest in practising medicine in third-world countries. In an incredible stroke of luck, or providence, John managed to find another doctor who shared the same interest at the same university, whom he wisely married. In time, his passion for teaching and rural medicine were combined with research to produce 12 books and 7 CD-ROMs on diagnostic strategies for General Practitioners treating a range of chronic diseases and disorders. Murtagh’s General Practice is a textbook considered the “bible” of General Practice.

Independent medicine cannot exist without quality General Practice. Australian Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies considered the relationship between the patient and General Practitioner to be so important that it needed to be protected in the Australian Constitution. It is because of clinical leaders such as Prof John Murtagh that independent medicine maintains its reputation for high productivity, accurate diagnosis and results for patients. We acknowledge this contribution for outstanding service to independent medicine with the presentation of the Bruce Shepherd Medal to Prof John Murtagh.