Ann McPherson was educated at St George's Hospital Medical School, London, and qualified in 1968 with distinction. This was a notable achievement at a time when many medical schools were reluctant to admit female students.
Following part-time posts in paediatrics and general practice in London, McPherson became a principal in general practice in Oxford in 1979. A key feature of her work was the establishment of better doctor–patient communication and the provision of more information to patients about illnesses.
An accomplished public broadcaster, her messages were communicated in numerous radio talks and newspaper articles. This led her to co-create the DIPEx (Database of Individual Patient Experiences) website through which patients were able to share their personal experiences. McPherson's principal publications include Mum, I Feel Funny (1982), Women's Problems in General Practice (1983) with Ann Anderson and The Diary of a Teenage Health Freak (1987), again with Ann Anderson, which sold over a million copies and went through many editions.