The availability of effective role models and mentors is essential to aspiring physicians. This research reveals how exemplary physicians acquired their significant teachers. Winners of the American Medical Association's Pride in the Professions award were interviewed to learn when and how they found the role models that shaped them. Information was collected through telephone interviews. The data were categorised through content analysis. The results showed that the doctors found their mentors through both informal and formal contexts. All of the award-winning physicians were able to recall either a positive or a negative role model or inspirational figure who had steered them toward their future achievements.