He was educated at Elstow (County) School, Bedford, Street John"s College, Cambridge (Natural Sciences Tripos, 1876), and at King"s College London, qualifying in medicine in 1881.
He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1892, and as Professor of Obstetric Medicine at King"s College London in 1904. He was an Examiner in Obstetric Medicine for the University of Cambridge and the University of London, and Consultant Physician in Obstetrics at King"s College Hospital. He was appointed as Physician to the Queen in 1918.
Professor Sir John Phillips published widely in the field of Obstetrics, and his publications included Outline of Diseases of Women, 1893, which reached a fourth edition in 1906.
Professor Sir John Phillips died on 8 December 1928.