Recent changes in society, the practice in medicine, the health care delivery and new technologies will have a direct impact on the development of the medical profession. Thus, there is a need for more efficient, evidence-based and evaluated continuing medical education (CME) programs. But CME in one’s own speciality interest is not enough. CME has to be extended into a broader context of continuing professional development (CPD) including personal, social and political aspects of medical practice. New methods have to concentrate on adult learning principles, individual needs and self-directed learning and have to promote performance-based assessment, outcome evaluation, communication skills, patient education and the use of computers and telecommunication technologies. All principles have to begin before entering medical school and then be continued and supported through a new medical curriculum from undergraduate to postgraduate training according to the ‘lifelong learning’ principle. All honorable gastroenterology, hepatology and endoscopy societies throughout the world should further define professionalism and develop leadership and management programs for their members. Nevertheless, every doctor always has a personal responsibility for lifelong learning.