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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Time consultants took an interest in primary care

Dr Ann McPherson answers the

Pulse careers questionnaire

What/who made you decide to go into general practice?

Having a good GP as a child and being interested in people and their lives and homes (nosey). In the1960s GPs were considered the underdogs in medical practice, having had one professor of medicine who couldn't understand why clever people went into general practice.

What would you have done if you hadn't been a doctor?

Having had 12 rejections from the London medical schools, I then applied for zoology and thought I would read this with a particular interest in tropical matters ­ inspired by a biology teacher who was an expert in blackfly and onchocerciasis.

Who's your career role model/guru?

Professor Sir David Weatherall, who really combines medicine, caring and science along with an interest in people.

What's your career high-point so far?

Establishing the DIPEx research group in the University of Oxford which gives personal accounts of health and illness on www.dipex.org. These accounts are in written, audio and video format and aim to give information and support to patients, their family and carers so that they are better informed about the life choices they now need to make. DIPEx also tells health professionals, from the patient's perspective, what it is really like to have an illness.

And the low-point?

When a patient complains and you feel you have really done your best, especially as we all know there are occasions when a patient should have complained and usually hasn't.

Anything interesting on your surgery/office wall?

A wonderful picture of a sunny French field which cheers me up in my basement and I look at it whenever I have a heartsink patient!

What leisure interests do you/would you list on your Who's Who entry?

Reading, tennis (badly), chatting, walking.

What's your fantasy career move?

Founding an Institute of Patients' Experiences in Oxford, so that properly researched patient experiences are taken as seriously as molecular medicine ­ or perhaps I should go off and win Wimbledon!

Dr Ann McPherson is a GP in Oxford, founderof the Database of Independent Patient Experiences (DIPEx) and author of Diary of a Teenage Health Freak

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