Background: Medical educators must impart not only an immense quantity of knowledge and technical skills but also an essential collection of values, attitudes, and ways of relating that fall under the rubric of professionalism. Along with technical skills and knowledge, becoming a physician requires caring about patients and interacting in ways that meet practical needs. Summary: One way to meet the challenges of teaching about professionalism and communication is to involve experienced patients and families as partners in education. Patients and family members have participated in health care quality assessment, health care advisory groups, and efforts to implement family-centered care. Medical educators have written competencies for communication and professionalism and have begun to involve patients and families in medical education activities. Conclusions: Increased involvement of patients and families in full partnership with medical educators is a logical outgrowth of changes in relationships between patients and health care providers as described in medical literature.