Academic health centers (AHCs) are committed to the tripartite missions of research, education, and patient care. Promotion decisions at many AHCs focus predominantly on research accomplishments, and some members of the community remain concerned about how to reward clinicians who excel in, and spend a majority of their time, caring for patients. Many clinically excellent physicians contribute substantively to all aspects of the mission by collaborating with researchers (either through intellectual discourse or enrolling participants in trials), by serving as role models for trainees with respect to ideal caring and practice, and by attracting patients to the institution. Not giving fair and appreciative recognition to these clinically excellent faculty places AHCs at risk of losing them. The Center for Innovative Medicine at Johns Hopkins set out to address this concern by defining, measuring, and rewarding clinical excellence. Prior to this initiative, little attention was directed toward the "bright spots" of excellence in patient care at Johns Hopkins Bayview. Using a scholarly approach, the authors launched a new academy; this manuscript describes the history, creation, and ongoing activities of the Miller-Coulson Academy of Clinical Excellence at Johns Hopkins University Bayview Medical Center. While membership in the academy is honorific, the members of this working academy are committed to influencing institutional culture as they collaborate on advocacy, scholarship, and educational initiatives.