Introduction: Professionalism is essential for the development of mature physicians but not much education is devoted to that theme. Aim: We aimed to determine the views of undergraduate medical students on medical professionalism. Methods: This was a qualitative study, based on focus groups of the first and fifth-year undergraduate medical students. Transcripts of the focus groups were independently evaluated by two researches. Segments of transcripts, identified as important, were marked as verbatims. A grounded theory method with open coding was applied. A list of codes was developed and reviewed by both researchers until the consensus was reached. Then, the codes were reviewed and put into the categories and dimensions. Results: Students recognized 10 main medical professionalism dimensions (empathy, respect, responsibility, autonomy, trust, communication, difference between professional and private life, team work, partnership) and two dimensions associated with it (physicians characteristics, external factors). Slight change of the attitudes towards a more self-centred future physicians figure was observed in the fifth-year medical students. Conclusion: The students have an appropriate picture of the physicians figure even at the beginning of their medical studies but still needs an education in professionalism. It seems that the fifth-year students perceive physicians as more self-centred when compared to their first-year colleagues.
Key words: medical ethics; medical students; qualitative study.