Background: Professional identity, or how a doctor thinks of himself or herself as a doctor, is considered to be as critical to medical education as the acquisition of skills and knowledge relevant to patient care. Summary: This article examines contemporary literature on the development of professional identity within medicine. Relevant theories of identity construction are explored and their application to medical education and pedagogical approaches to enhancing students' professional identity are proposed. The influence of communities of practice, role models, and narrative reflection within curricula are examined. Conclusions: Medical education needs to be responsive to changes in professional identity being generated from factors within medical student experiences and within contemporary society.