SRN 1950, SCM 1952; BSc Lond 1967, MA 1969.
From 1974 until her retirement in 1988, McFarlane was professor of nursing at the University of Manchester, the first post of this kind in England. McFarlane had trained at St Bartholomew's Hospital and was health visitor to Cardiff City Council. In 1962 McFarlane joined the Royal College of Nursing as education officer, and held a number of appointments there. She came to the University of Manchester from the Royal College of Nursing, where she was chairman of the representative body and had been director of a research project to measure the quality of nursing care. She continued to be interested in this area when she came to Manchester. McFarlane was senior lecturer from 1971, and was head of the department of nursing at the University of Manchester from its inception in 1973, before her appointment as professor. McFarlane was made a baroness in 1979, in recognition of her services to nursing and in 1976 became a fellow of the Royal College of Nursing. She made important contributions to nursing at a national and international level, sitting on many committees. McFarlane was awarded an honorary LLD from the University of Manchester in 1998.