Context: Emotions play a central role in the professional development of doctors; however, research into how students are socialised to deal with emotions throughout medical school is still lacking. Objectives: This study aimed to gain a better understanding of the emotional socialisation of medical students (e.g. how they learn to express and respond to emotions evoked in clinical practice in the process of becoming a doctor). Methods: In this longitudinal study, 12 medical students participated in annual, individual, semi-structured interviews, capturing the full 6-year medical school period. We carried out a thematic analysis, which was iterative and inductive. Results: The socialisation of emotion in the process of becoming a doctor happens in a complex interplay between student and context. We identified two modes of emotional socialisation (e.g. explicit and implicit teaching about emotions), the latter including how the people observed by students express their emotions and how they respond to the emotions expressed by students. Although the main message conveyed to students still seemed one about hiding or suppressing emotion, we found that students were able to identify and build upon the emotional expression and responses they observed in positive role models and managed to create their own opportunities to express their emotions. We found large differences between students in how they perceived, presented and developed themselves. Conclusions: Students differ in how they respond to and what they need from their environment and thus may benefit from tailored supervision in learning how to experience, express and respond to emotion. Providing students with real and authentic responsibility for patients and allowing them time and opportunity to talk about emotion might help them to create an emotional space.