The teaching of medical skills to medical students and to other doctors is a skill in itself. The traditional ‘apprenticeship’ system of learning within medicine is now known to be inefficient and flawed, in both the UK and in other countries where it has been scrutinised. This article sets out guiding principles to help doctors set up ‘teaching the teachers' courses, which teach the skills of teaching. Psychiatrists at all grades, from senior house officer up to consultant, need some teaching skills, and the authors outline how to plan a course, determine the needs of potential learners and set its objectives and content. Guidance is given on some of the opportunities that are available to obtain formal qualifications in medical education.