Background: Little is known about how medical educators perceive their own expertise, needs and challenges in relation to medical education. Aim: To survey an international community of medical educators with a focus on: (1) their expertise, (2) their need for training and (3) perceived challenges. Methods: A web-based survey comprising closed and open free-text questions was sent to 2200 persons on the mailing list of the Association for Medical Education in Europe. Results: Of the 2200 medical educators invited to participate, 860 (39%) from 76 different countries took part in the survey. In general, their reported areas of expertise mainly comprised principles of teaching, communication skills training, stimulation of students in self-directed learning and student assessment. Respondents most often indicated a need for training with respect to development in medical-education-research methodology, computer-based training, curriculum evaluation and curriculum development. In the qualitative analysis of 1836 free-text responses concerning the main challenges faced, respondents referred to a lack of academic recognition, funding, faculty development, time for medical education issues and institutional support. Conclusions: The results of this survey indicate that medical educators face several challenges, with a particular need for more academic recognition, funding and academic qualifications in medical education.