As a Melbourne University medical student in the late 1970s, Bruce Johnstone became interested in solving difficult and unusual problems and began to focus on the surgical specialties in order to assist patients in practical and tangible ways. Upon graduation, he spent four years working in various surgical specialties at the Austin Hospital, Heidelberg before being selected into the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons plastic surgical training program. He trained at Peter MacCallum Clinic, the Victorian Plastic Surgery Unit at PANCH, the Royal Children’s Hospital and the Royal Melbourne Hospital. A further two years of subspecialist fellowships were completed in Atlanta Georgia and Salt Lake City Utah, USA. Areas of expertise developed in these prestigious American centres included microsurgery, paediatric plastic surgery, breast reconstruction, aesthetic surgery, and in particular during his year in a Salt Lake City, hand and upper limb surgery with training in both the Departments of Plastic and Orthopaedic surgery.
In December 1991 he returned to Melbourne to work principally at the Royal Melbourne and the Royal Children’s Hospital as well as establishing a private practice in association with a group of leading plastic surgeons at 766 Elizabeth Street.
Within the public sector, Bruce soon developed the subspecialty of hand surgery at the Royal Melbourne and Royal Children’s Hospitals well as being an active reconstructive microsurgeon. His areas of interest included upper limb reconstruction in adults, particularly following trauma and advanced arthritis, head and neck, lower limb, chest wall and breast reconstruction. At the Royal Children’s Hospital he further developed techniques for salivary control management as well as establishing the now very productive and well staffed Melbourne Paediatric Hand Center. He has been very active in developing upper limb surgery in cerebral palsy and has been heading the internationally well-regarded Obstetric Brachial Plexus Clinic since 2000. Multidisciplinary care involving other plastic and orthopaedic sugeons, occupational therapists and physiotherapists has been established.
Clinical research which has been presented and published internationally has complemented his busy public and private practices. In 1998 he was appointed to the Court of Examiners, Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and in 2004 he was made an Associate Professor and Clinical Fellow within the University of Melbourne Department of Paediatrics, Royal Children’s Hospital.