Physician migration is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon that is intimately intertwined with medical education. Imbalances in the production of physicians lead to workforce shortages and surpluses that compromise the ability to deliver adequate and equitable health care to large parts of the world's population. In this overview, we address a special section of the journal and briefly describe the current state of affairs in physician migration and its effects on donor and recipient countries. Global forms of practice and education, based on initiatives such as telemedicine and the International Virtual Medical School, hold promise of redressing some of these imbalances without requiring physicians to leave their countries. Other initiatives, such as those to raise the standards of medical education across the continuum, will improve the quality of care locally and permit the movement of physicians, resulting in better distribution of the workforce. All of these actions require a uniquely global perspective that places a premium on the long-term benefits to humankind while respecting the rights of patients and physicians.