National efforts to improve the quality and safety of health care present challenges for medical education and training. Today's doctors need to be skilled communicators who know how to identify, prevent and manage adverse events and near misses, how to use evidence and information, how to work safely in a team, how to practise ethically, and how to be workplace teachers and learners. These competencies (knowledge, skills and attitudes) are set out in the National Patient Safety Education Framework (NPSF) of the Australian Council for Safety and Quality in Health Care. The NPSF is designed to help medical schools, vocational colleges, health organisations and private practitioners develop curricula to enable health professionals to work safely. The NPSF describes what doctors (depending on their level of knowledge and experience) can do to demonstrate competencies in a range of quality and safety activities. Medical schools, vocational colleges, health organisations and private practitioners need to work collaboratively with one another and with other health professionals to ensure that patient safety and quality curricula are implemented and evaluated, and that valid and reliable assessments of learning outcomes are developed. Interdisciplinary and vertically integrated education and training are needed, incorporating innovative methods, to create a safer health care system.