Q&A with Dr Anita Green

Chief Medical Officer for GC2018 Commonwealth Games, Dr Anita Green, pictured at UQ's St Lucia campus Chief Medical Officer for GC2018 Commonwealth Games, Dr Anita Green, pictured at UQ's St Lucia campus

UQ senior lecturer in sports medicine and Chief Medical Officer for GC2018 Commonwealth Games, Dr Anita Green

UQ senior lecturer in sports medicine and Chief Medical Officer for GC2018 Commonwealth Games, Dr Anita Green

General practitioner Dr Anita Green is a senior lecturer in sports medicine at the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences in the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, a role she undertakes alongside her clinical practices at UQ Health Care and Prince Charles Hospital’s Heart Lung Institute.

In 2014, she was appointed as the Chief Medical Officer for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018) and in her ‘spare’ time she is Chair of the Brisbane North Primary Health Network.

ChangeMakers caught up with Dr Green to find out more about her many valuable contributions to sports medicine and beyond.

Is it true that sport and health are common themes in your life?

Yes, I have always had a passion for sport, both watching and participating. While certainly not an elite athlete, I enjoy swimming, surfing and walking. I see exercise as both an enjoyable activity and as a medicine to prevent and/or manage illness.

Is that why you specialised in sports medicine?

Yes, I completed my Master of Sports Medicine back in the ’90s and have been hooked ever since. With Dr Peter Friis, I now co-convene UQ’s postgraduate and undergraduate sports medicine courses. I love the multidisciplinary nature of the field and how we strive to get the best out of ourselves, both physically and mentally. In our area, we liaise with experts in biomechanics, exercise performance, exercise science, nutrition science, and even the history of sport. We also pair our human movement students with medical students, creating cross-disciplinary experiences to break down some of the silos in undergraduate education.

You have worked in medical officer roles at a wide range of sporting events including soccer’s A League, Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, Brisbane Marathon, Gold Coast Airport Marathon and, most recently, the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. What attracts you to positions such as this?

I think it’s important to challenge yourself to get the best outcomes for these elite athletes, and the best from yourself, in a potentially high-pressure environment. It’s nice to have a range of things to do and to keep up interest in your profession. Attending major sporting events is also a great opportunity to work with elite sportspeople. It’s wonderful being part of the ‘team behind the team’ that helps support these consummate professionals who have incredible focus and the drive to be the best they can be. Those at the top of their game have a lot to teach the rest of us in terms of discipline, goal-setting, and working with others to achieve the best possible outcome on the day.

What did your role at GC2018 entail? 

As Chief Medical Officer, I worked with the Commonwealth Games Federation Medical Commission to support the delivery of a high standard of health care to all athletes, team officials, technical officials, visiting dignitaries and spectators at the Games. Our team also oversaw the delivery of a comprehensive anti-doping program. The GC2018 medical team had more than 1400 highly skilled clinicians as volunteers – including doctors with sports medicine, emergency medicine and general practice experience; sports physiotherapists and podiatrists; pharmacists; nurses; optometrists and sports trainers. Although stressful working in such a very big organisation, I loved being part of a huge multidisciplinary team. It’s also what I love about sports medicine – the massive team effort. And it’s the same in life: if you work with others you will get the best results.

You are also Chair of the Brisbane North Primary Health Network – what does that involve?

I work with a group of like-minded people who want to make changes to the medical system to improve its efficiency and use any cost-savings to deliver a better service. We all want to improve the management of chronic disease for the benefit of our patients and clinicians.

With such a busy life, how do you find time for your own exercise?

Good point! My goal is to be less busy so that I can do physical activity on a daily basis because I understand the importance for chronic disease prevention and know that it’s helpful in lowering anxiety – as well as being enjoyable. I was fortunate to be part of the police escort for the Queen’s Baton relay in North Queensland recently and joined them in walking and running with the baton-bearers. My job was to keep participants – people from their teens to late 80s, super athletic or suffering from terminal illness, able-bodied or travelling in wheelchairs – safe and healthy, and support them if they suffered falls or over-use injuries. It was a joy to leave the desk job of planning and procedures development and walk or jog with these leaders and icons of their communities. 

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