Policy initiatives that aim to elevate the position of medical teaching to that of medical research could influence the satisfaction of three basic psychological needs related to motivation for medical teaching. To explore relations between the satisfaction of three basic psychological needs towards medical teaching and two policy initiatives for medical teaching: (Junior) Principal Lecturer positions [(J)PL positions] and Subsidized Innovation and Research Projects in Medical Education (SIRPMEs). An online questionnaire was used to collect data about medical teaching in the setting of a university hospital. We adapted the Work-related Basic Need Satisfaction scale (Van den Broeck et al. in J Occup Organ Psychol, 83(4):981–1002, 2010), in order to measure feelings of autonomy, competence, and relatedness in teaching. We examined the relations between (J)PL positions and SIRPMEs and the satisfaction of three basic psychological needs. A total of 767 medical teachers participated. The initiatives appear to be related to different beneficial outcomes in terms of feelings of autonomy, competence, and relatedness in medical teaching. Either a (J)PL position is obtained by teachers who feel competent and related towards medical teaching, or obtaining a (J)PL position makes teachers feel more competent and related towards teaching, or these relations could be interacting. Also, either a SIRPME is obtained by teachers who feel competent and autonomous towards medical teaching, or obtaining a SIRPME makes teachers feel more competent and autonomous towards teaching, or these relations could be interacting. Additional research needs to scrutinize the causal or interacting relations further and to determine optimal conditions for these policy initiatives more specifically. Implications for future research are discussed.