During their development into competent medical specialists, residents benefit from their attending physicians' excellence in teaching and role modelling. Work engagement increases overall job performance, but it is unknown whether this also applies to attending physicians' teaching performance and role modelling. Attending physicians in clinical teaching practice take on roles as doctors and teachers. Therefore, this study (a) examined levels of attending physicians' work engagement in both roles, and (b) quantified the relationships of both work engagement roles to their teaching performance and role model status. In this multicenter survey, residents evaluated attending physicians' teaching performance and role model status using the validated System for Evaluation of Teaching Qualities. Attending physicians self-reported their work engagement on a 7-point scale, separately for their roles as doctors and teachers, using the validated 9-item Utrecht Work Engagement Scale. In total, 549 (68 %) residents filled out 4,305 attending physician evaluations and 627 (78 %) attending physicians participated. Attending physicians reported higher work engagement in their doctor than in their teacher roles (mean difference: 0.95; 95 % CI 0.86-1.04; p < 0.001). Teacher work engagement was positively related to teaching performance (regression coefficient, B: 0.11; 95 % CI 0.08-0.14; p < 0.001), which in turn was positively associated to role model status (B: 1.08; 95 % CI 0.10-1.18; p < 0.001). In the eyes of residents, good supervisors need to be more than engaged physicians, as attending physicians with high teacher work engagement were evaluated as better teachers.