SOUTH AFRICA is a long way from Market Street in University City - nearly 8,000 miles away.

However, the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, headquartered at 3624 Market St., has a connection to Cape Town, South Africa.

ECFMG promotes quality health care for the public by certifying international medical graduates for entry into graduate medical education in the United States.

In 2000, ECFMG established the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research to support its mission. A year later, the FAIMER Institute was founded in Philadelphia, where it served as a model for five regional fellowship institutes around the world, including South Africa.

The institute offers two-year fellowships for health-professions educators who are seeking to develop educational, leadership and management skills.

University of Cape Town professor Francois Cilliers, a 2004 FAIMER Fellow, said the personal impact of the fellowship has been "huge," adding that some fellows credit their experiences in the program with their rise to leadership positions, including college deans.

Cilliers, who is an education development professor, said the African region is unique because it is multinational. "The institute is now formally called the sub-Saharan Africa FAIMER Regional Institute. We have fellows from 15 countries across sub-Saharan Africa."

And like its Philadelphia counterpart, the FAIMER Institute in South Africa utilizes the same models of education methods, project management, change management and leadership in helping to advance worldwide medical education.

- Ryan Hall, Philadelphia

"I've gained the ability to go into new situations with an open mind and to let people and places teach you things."