Objectives: Medical education research is thriving. In recent decades, numbers of journals and publications have increased enormously, as have the number and size of medical education meetings around the world. The aim of this paper is to shed some light on the origins of this success. My central argument is that dialogue between education practice (and its teachers) and education research (and its researchers) is indispensable. Reflections: To illustrate how I have come to this perspective, I discuss two crucial developments of personal import to myself. The first is the development of assessment theory informed by both research findings and insights emerging from implementations conducted in collaboration with teachers and learners. The second is the establishment of a department of education that includes many members from the medical domain. Conclusions: Medical education is thriving because it is shaped and nourished within a community of practice of collaborating teachers, practitioners and researchers. This obviates the threat of a fissure between education research and education practice. The values of this community of practice - inclusiveness, openness, supportiveness, nurture and mentorship - are key elements for its sustainability. In pacing the development of our research in a manner that maintains this synergy, we should be mindful of the zone of proximal development of our community of practice.