Medical educators invoke professionalism as a core competency in curricula. This paper criticizes classic definitions. It also identifies some negative traits of medicine as a profession. The call to professionalism is naive nostalgia. Straightforward didactics in professionalism cannot do the desired work in medical education. The most we can say is that students should adopt the good aspects of professionalism and the profession should stop being some of what it has been. This is a platitude. If the notion is to be more than shallow, each student and practitioner will have to engage in much dialogue, reflection and refinement over many years.