Previous research has pointed to the role television can play in informing health practices and beliefs. Within the academic setting in particular, some educators have raised concerns about the influence of medical dramas on students. Less research, however, draws on the perspectives of students, and this study therefore explores medical students’ perceptions of medical practice and professionalism in popular medical television programmes. Qualitative data from surveys of Australian undergraduate medical students showed that students perceived professionalism in dichotomous ways, with three main themes: cure–care, where a doctor’s skill is either technical or interpersonal; work–leisure, where a doctor is either dedicated to work or personal life; and clinical–administration, where work is either direct patient care or administration. There continue to be imagined divisions between curing and caring for students, who express concerns about balancing work and leisure, and expectations that doctors should have little administrative work. Given students were able to identify these important contemporary issues around professionalism on television, there is pedagogical value in using popular images of the medical world in medical education.