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FAIMER Fellowship Helps Mauritius Educator Turn Weaknesses into Strengths

Dr. Bibi Sumera Keenoo

Dr. Bibi Sumera Keenoo describes herself as an outside-the-box thinker. As an introvert and the most junior faculty member (during the COVID-19 pandemic) of the University of Mauritius Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, she found it challenging to express her novel ideas and gain the support of senior faculty. Her fellowship with Ain Shams University-Middle East North Africa-FAIMER Regional Institute (ASU-MENA-FRI) helped to change that.

The ASU-MENA-FRI is one of nine FAIMER Regional Institutes throughout the world that are based on the core curriculum of the International FAIMER Institute . The goal of these Institutes is to provide professional development curricula in health professions education and leadership for international health professions faculty who have demonstrated the potential to play a key role in advancing health professions education at their institutions, within their countries, or around the globe.

Dr. Bibi Sumera Keenoo

Name: Dr. Bibi Sumera Keenoo
Title: Coordinator of Major Medical Programmes
Institution: University of Mauritius, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
FAIMER Fellow: Ain Shams University-Middle East North Africa-FAIMER Regional Institute (ASU-MENA-FRI), 2022

“I learned a lot,” said Dr. Keenoo of her two-year FAIMER fellowship, which she completed in 2022. “I’m generally an introvert, but that doesn’t matter in terms of making a change. I learned about myself, like how I can use my qualities to make changes and to introduce new things, and where I’m lacking in certain qualities and how I can compensate with my colleagues.”

Dr. Keenoo explained how she learned to discuss her ideas with faculty colleagues who were more extroverted than she was but were also willing to listen. They would, in turn, become champions of her ideas with other faculty within the department.

Dr. Keenoo wrote about her journey of self-reflection, which helped her discover her strengths and weaknesses and develop her leadership skills, in the article “Reflection of Leadership Skills by a Clinical Educator published in the March 2022 issue of the journal BMJ Leader.

In addition to learning how to adapt her leadership style to her strengths and weaknesses, Dr. Keenoo credits her FAIMER fellowship with helping her assist her school’s faculty in making the rapid transition to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Through the fellowship I learned about my personality and we learned about change management. So, I tried to apply what I learned,” Dr. Keenoo said. “And because everyone in the fellowship was facing the same problem (transitioning to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic), everyone was discussing the issues they were having. They were sharing what was working. And then once everyone started it, it went very smoothly.”

It is that exchange of ideas with other Fellows, not only those in the ASU-MENA-FRI but also those Fellows from the International FAIMER Institute and the eight other FAIMER Regional Institutes throughout the world, that is one of the most important benefits of the FAIMER fellowship, Dr. Keenoo said. She is currently conducting research on the factors that influence medical students’ mental health and wellness as they pursue their degrees. To get a broad perspective, Dr. Keenoo has reached out to FAIMER Fellows through FAIMER Connect , a web-based network for FAIMER Fellows worldwide to stay connected and share ideas.

“It’s through FAIMER Connect that I got lots of people to join me so we can have something more international, not just based on the Mauritian context,” Dr. Keenoo said. “It’s going to be the first (research study) on this topic so there is not much we can get from background literature. Because of that, I didn’t want it to be biased. I wanted it to be a bit broader, to cover different cultures, to cover different places and different mindsets.”

To those considering applying for the International FAIMER Institute or one of FAIMER’s nine regional institutes, Dr. Keenoo says, “Go for it!”

“You change professionally and you change as a person because you get to know yourself,” Dr. Keenoo said. “And the other thing is because of the network. You’re always in touch with new methods.”

The Storytellers series brings the work of Intealth to life through the stories of the people we serve. FAIMER offers fellowship programs for health professions educators through the online International FAIMER Institute and nine FAIMER Regional Institutes in Chile, China, Egypt, India, and Indonesia. Health professions educators who complete one of these Institutes are skilled in implementing curricular improvements at their home institutions and become outstanding local and national resources and leaders for improving health professions education. FAIMER Fellows form an international network of more than 2,000 health professions educators representing nearly 60 countries with the ultimate goal of improving world health.

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