The current emphasis on providing quality undergraduate and postgraduate medical education has focused attention on the educational responsibilities of all doctors. There is a greater awareness of the need to train doctors as educators and courses have been set up to satisfy this need. Some courses, such as those on how to conduct appraisal, are specific to one task facing a medical educator. Other courses take a broader view and relate educational theory to practice. In this paper we describe an outcome-based approach in which competence in teaching is defined in terms of 12 learning outcomes. The framework provides a holistic approach to the roles of the teacher and supports the professionalism of teaching. Such a framework provides the basis for the development of a curriculum for teaching excellence. It helps to define important competences for different categories of teachers, communicate the areas to be addressed in a course, identify gaps in course provision, evaluate courses, assist in staff planning and allow individuals to assess their personal learning needs. The framework is presented to encourage wider debate.