A number of medical specialties have recently developed their own specialty-specific charters. This proliferation of charters is representative of an unease about medical professionalism that has arisen not just from increasing medical specialization, but also from evolving needs as physicians progress through their careers. The development of such specialty-specific definitions of professionalism is undesirable: all specialties should adhere to the same basic principles. These charters and "definitions" should be incorporated into a formal developmental model, derived from needs assessments from the level of medical school through the level of specialization. Such a model would provide physicians with more concrete guidance regarding professional behavior at each stage of their careers, address unmet needs in neglected areas such as mid- and late career, and help alleviate the tension associated with expressing these ideas. Incorporating concepts derived from more classic models of development may create opportunities to address the teaching of values and identify barriers to success.