Since teaching is a fundamental activity of tertiary institutions, measures need to be in place to assess the teaching quality of individual academic staff members. Few faculties, however, have objective criteria for assessing this quality. In the present study, for second-year medical students, being a good communicator was identified as the most important asset a teacher could have. Personal qualities, such as being approachable, helpful and friendly, were more highly regarded than technical issues such as being punctual and having organized lectures. This suggests that students value the teacher-learner relationship. Since the global trend of medical education is towards a more humanistic approach to patient care, medical teachers need to become educators, interacting with individual students. Educators might also have to become role models for students in terms of attitudes and ethics. Students will therefore be in the best position to judge the impact of individual educators on their development.