A group of seven women in the College of Health Sciences (CHS) - dedicated to promoting excellence in research, teaching and learning - have been hard at work in a strategic partnership between UKZN and medical education research organisations.


The organisations are the Foundation for Advancement of Medical Education Research (FAIMER), and the Southern Africa FAIMER Regional Institute (SAFRI) - a voluntary, non-profit organisation (NPO) in South Africa.


UKZN’s Dr Jacqueline van Wyk, an executive and one of SAFRI’s founding members, forms part of a global network of FAIMER fellows. Van Wyk undertook the Philadelphia-based FAIMER Fellowship between 2004 and 2005.


Her passion is shared with colleagues and SAFRI Fellows: Professor Fikile Mtshali, Dean: Teaching and Learning (CHS); Dr Anna Voce, Senior Lecturer and Academic Co-ordinator for the Masters in Public Health programme; Dr Veena Singaram, Head of the Mentoring, Academic Monitoring and Support Office (MAMSO); Mrs Lakshini McNamee, Senior Technician and Student Co-ordinator in the Department of Forensic Pathology; Mrs Nirmala Naidoo who previously lectured in UKZN’s Department of Physiotherapy and is now at the University of Cape Town,  and Dr Sindi Mthembu who previously  lectured in the Department of Nursing and now heads the School for the College of Nursing of the KwaZulu-Natal’s Department of Health.


UKZN is one of nine South African universities partnering with FAIMER. Three UKZN members have taught on the SAFRI staff development programme.


SAFRI is currenly presenting a two-year FAIMER supported programme for health professions educators in the sub Saharan-African region.  The NPO’s objectives include establishing a regional community of Health professions educators equipped to deliver health professions education appropriate to the needs of the region and the design of responsive curricula according to current international standards of best practice.


The programme has a strong focus on leadership development, research and the advancement of  scholarship in health professions education. It offers a two-year Fellowship that combines residential and distance learning components.


The programme also provides opportunities for alumni to participate in an online learning environment and other collaborative networks such as the South African Association of Health Educationalists (SAAHE) conference.


Opportunities are offered for staff to undertake formal studies such as a Masters Degree in Medical Education in partnership institutions, while fellows receive guidance and mentorship in conducting educational research in health care settings. Publication of innovations can be submitted for the South African Journal of Health Professions Education.


Singaram, a 2008 SAFRI Fellow said the fellowship was a positive influence for her as a medical education researcher. It provided key skills for mentorship and research.


The partnership also focuses on several topics including: educational leadership, curriculum development, teaching methods, managing learning, mentoring and coaching, distance training and learning, informal learning, e-learning, education technology, organisational team building, education research,  skills and competency assessment, communication and presentation skills, appreciative enquiry, educational tools development, learning network formation, performance improvement methods, faculty development, and scholarship development.


Mtshali said the College Teaching and Learning Office was very honoured to be working so closely with van Wyk and Singaram. ‘We intend to recommend the fellowship to others as well. It uses innovative ways to develop the critical skills needed for teaching and research.’

author email :