Thank you to all of you who have been contacting RDoC and your provincial housestaff organizations with respect to exam schedules. In addition to direct contact with our members, we also carefully follow conversations on social media. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have worked to represent the concerns that we are hearing and have advocated on behalf of our members to all of the national examining bodies including the Medical Council of Canada, the College of Family Physicians of Canada and the Royal College of Physician and Surgeons of Canada.
Candidate safety has been at the top of our priority list, followed closely by flexibility and a demand that contingency plans be in place. We have also advocated for flexibility from the Medical Regulatory Authorities and have repeatedly sought to ensure that the inability to sit an exam due to the pandemic not be an impediment to transitioning into practice.
We have heard repeatedly from members that postponing exams is the least favourable option, and we know from experience the havoc that postponed exams causes for everyone.
As the third wave of the pandemic rolls across the country we are monitoring the situation closely. As of this morning, here is the latest update:
The Medical Council of Canada will be offering the MCCQEII to registered candidates through a virtual format only. Details related to the exam are available through their FAQ page. We met with the MCC and they confirm that the vendor they have selected has the necessary experience to conduct virtual OSCE exams and we have reviewed with the MCC the technical support that they will have in place should candidates experience problems. The MCC have released two modules as well as other resources to assist in preparation for the virtual exam format and promise to release a third module this month.
The CFPC certification exams will be conducted virtually and are scheduled to start tomorrow and run until April 23rd. The exam will be delivered through Prometric’s exam centres as well as through remote proctoring. As of this morning, it is our understanding that all Prometric exam sites are still open. If there are any changes, Prometric will contact the candidate immediately with detailed information.
Updates from the CFPC can be found here, however there have not been any changes since April 9, 2021.
The Royal College was quick to pivot to a virtual format for the written exams, offering candidates the choice of writing the exam remotely or at a hotel test centre. We have provided the Royal College with the feedback that we have received from our members regarding the need to ensure that there is appropriate physical distancing in hotel lobbies as well as concerns that have been raised about some hotel rooms not being cleaned overnight. The Royal College is paying for full housecleaning and have welcomed all of our feedback so that they can work to ensure that the hotels provide the service that has been contracted. In anticipation of an announcement by the Ontario government about new restrictions, we were in touch with the Royal College last Friday to ensure that they could pivot all remaining hotel written exams to home written exams if necessary. We have continued to check if the ability to conduct hotel written exams is permissible. Twenty-eight specialties have completed their written exams, with Adult Rheumatology completing by end of day today. Dermatology, Nuclear Medicine and Orthopedic Surgery are the last specialties to hold exams starting today and ending tomorrow. Once again, we have been reassured that if hotel writtens cease to be an option, then a contingency plan is in place.
As almost everyone likely knows, the Royal College decided on April 13th to cancel the Core Internal Medicine Oral Exam. The Royal College alerted us that due to the increasing demands of the pandemic examiners were becoming unavailable and that options were being explored. We emphatically communicated that in our view, postponement of the exam was not a viable option and on the 13th the cancellation of the exam was announced.
We have been advocating continuously on behalf of our members regarding concerns about the need for oral exams in other disciplines and we will continue to do so as events related to the pandemic continue to unfold. We understand and have communicated safety concerns, the increasing burden of stress that all residents are feeling as the pandemic rages on, and the moral burden that many senior residents are feeling as they quarantine at home to ensure they are COVID-free in preparation for their upcoming oral exams while being acutely aware of the increased service demands on their junior colleagues.
The Royal College has told us that they still intend to deliver oral exams as outlined in the spring schedule for exams on their website.
I can assure all members that we will continue to advocate on your behalf and that we will only communicate with you when we have updates with information that we know to be true and that we believe will be helpful. Please know that, in addition to all of the updates that I have provided above, we continue to work to advocate on your behalf, as well as that of our recent members, to the various medical regulatory authorities.
I want to especially thank the Postgrad Deans across the country that have stepped up to support our views and advocate on behalf of their residents. As well, I want to thank our Provincial Housestaff partners who continue to work so effectively at the provincial level in supporting the work of the RDoC Board and staff.
Dr. Esther Kim