Historically in medicine, and we believe in law, professionalism was not taught explicitly. Students were expected to develop their professional identities by patterning their behaviour on that of respected role models. As a first step in developing a curriculum, it became important to define professionalism. Experience has shown that it is difficult to initiate a program in which professionalism is actively taught and the development of a professional identity addressed without strong institutional support. An individual must be responsible for the program and be accountable for its performance. The definition of professionalism, its attributes and the behaviours characteristic of a professional serve as the basis of instruction at all levels-undergraduate, postgraduate and professional practice. Once the objectives for the program on teaching professionalism have been developed the program can be designed and implemented in an incremental fashion. The cognitive base of professionalism constitutes a body of knowledge which must be understood by those aspiring to become professional.