The Fellowship


The Fellowship

The Sub-Saharan Africa-FAIMER Regional Institute (SAFRI) offers a fellowship program that can be completed in 18 months. The fellowship program is comprised of a residential session and a number of distance learning components. The residential component is offered in South Africa and all fellows are expected to participate in various sessions over several consecutive days. The planned two residential sessions are held approximately one year apart.

Curriculum topics include student assessment, good teaching practices, program evaluation, distance learning, leadership, change management, project design and management, conflict management, educational research and scholarship, and qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis.

SAFRI’s distance learning sessions focus on the mentoring of Fellows, network building, and the exchange of ideas through participation in distance learning programmes. Fellows are also required to design and implement a faculty development workshop at their home institution during the second distance learning session as part of their professional portfolio. As a part of the distance learning sessions, Fellows are provided with the opportunity to complete a series of online courses aimed at further development of their skills in research, management and assessment.

Over the course of the program, each Fellow designs and implements an education innovation project at his or her home institution. Project summaries and results are shared by Fellows in poster presentations during the second residential session. Each Fellow also prepares an abstract of the project for submission to the SAAHE conference.


Education Innovation Project

A major goal of the fellowship program is the design and implementation of an education innovation project, proposed by Fellows in their initial application to the Institute, and implemented during the fellowship at their home institution. Projects with the potential to improve the health of the community, region, or country of the applicant’s institution are given higher priority in the fellowship selection process.

To encourage the development of knowledge and skills in health professions education scholarship (research, evaluation, and publishing), Fellows prepare a poster and an abstract (for submission to the SAAHE conference) based on the first year of project implementation. Fellows are encouraged and supported to continue developing the scholarly outputs of their SAFRI projects beyond the core 17-month fellowship program with the goal of producing an academic publication at the end of two years.

Project proposals typically involve, but are not limited to, one or more of the following areas: student assessment, educational application of information technology, health systems integration, community-based health professions education, problem-based learning, clinical skills development, professionalism and ethics, critical thinking, program evaluation, faculty development, curriculum revision and/or integration, student affairs, interactive teaching methods, development of medical education units, and distance learning.


Building regional communities of practice of health professions educators is another major goal of the SAFRI program. During the course of the fellowship, Fellows interact with members of their own class, as well as with Fellows from the preceding and subsequent classes. Community building is fostered by a period of overlap in the residential sessions for first- and second-year participants, providing opportunities for interaction among Fellows who are beginning their education innovation projects and those who have worked on their projects for a year. On-line discussion during the distance learning sessions provides an additional forum for group work on research and projects, and for the sharing of resources and experience among current Fellows and Institute graduates. Fellows are encouraged to continue their participation in the larger FAIMER community after completion of the fellowship.

SAFRI welcomed its first class of Fellows in 2008. To date, 139 individuals from more than 20 institutions in 16 African countries have participated in the fellowship.

The global FAIMER community includes more than 700 Fellows from more than 200 schools in more than 40 countries. To see a sortable list of FAIMER Fellows, their institutions, countries, fellowship year, and project, please visit the FAIMER website Fellows page.

Program Faculty

SAFRI is supported by regional FAIMER faculty, who are past FAIMER Institute and SAFRI Fellows, as well as by international experts in health professions education. For more information about the faculty, visit the Faculty page.


SAFRI is organized and guided on a strategic level by the Board of Directors for the SAFRI company. The Chief Executive Officer, Dianne Manning (acting) provides directives to the management committee, within which the Fellowship Directors ensure that the SAFRI fellowship continues to reach the intended targets across Sub-Saharan Africa. Jacky van Wyk and Elizabeth Wolvaardt currently serve as the Fellowship Programme Directors. Administrative support is provided by Vuyisile Khumalo.


The schedule for the 2020 fellowship cycle is:

1 November 2020 Application opens
15 February 2021 Application deadline
22 February to 1 March 2021 Peer-review of applications
4/5 March 2021 Selection meeting
30 March 2021 Announcement of awards
June (actual dates pending) 2021 Session 1 (residential session)
June (actual dates pending) 2022 Session 3 (residential session)
July 2021 to May 2022 Session 3 (residential session)
July 2022 to December 2022 Optional Advanced Scholarship component

The SAFRI Regional Institute is sponsored by the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER), which is a nonprofit foundation of the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).  Fellows are asked to pay for their travel to and from residential sessions.

Fellows are selected through a peer-review process of at least two faculty members and the executive committee of SAFRI. This review process is coupled with the scoring system which FAIMER uses through the application forms.

Fellows who have been affiliated with, or have been employed in, a higher education institution as a lecturer/educational facilitator in any discipline in health professions education for 2 years are eligible to apply for the programme. Fellows receive full funding for accommodation, meals, and program costs. Travel costs to and from the residential sessions are not included. There are no registration or course fees; however, costs incurred in carrying out the innovation project are the responsibility of the Fellow. Fellows should have access to a Wi-Fi capable laptop computer for use during residential sessions.

Please take note of the following before completing the application forms:

  • Fellowship applications require a recommendation letter from the Dean of your institution as well as a reference letter from your head of department, or equivalent.
  • The application process includes a short proposal for the educational innovation project at your institution which you aim to complete during your fellowship
  • On selection Fellows will be notified via email at which time they are required to accept the Fellowship.
  • All selected Fellows are required to attend ALL sessions and complete all distance learning components in order to fully utilise the opportunities provided through the Fellowship.
  • Residential session require Fellows to stay on-site for the full-time period (including weekends). Should selected fellows be unable to do so, they will unfortunately forfeit their fellowship as the fully immersive experience is essential to the successful completion of the programme.

Applications for 2020 Fellowship are open.

To request more information on the program via e-mail, please click here.