UPDATE #3: COVID-19 and Exams

This memo was distributed to all RDoC members by our PHO partners. 

Dear colleagues,

Yesterday, the College of Family Physicians of Canada, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the Medical Council of Canada announced their decision to postpone their exams in light of COVID-19 concerns.

We understand how incredibly difficult this time of uncertainty is for residents across the country. Preparing for exams and studying indefinitely without a finish line is – full stop – stressful and distressing. The potential impact that exam postponement has on resident lives, career paths, and future plans is enormous.

We have and will continue to communicate your concerns expressed through your social media, through your petitions, and through your direct emails to covid19@residentdoctors.ca.

 What Are We Advocating For?

  1. Rescheduling exams as soon as possible should remain a top priority – indefinite postponement is not an option.
  2. Creative exam solutions must be explored in the event that the COVID-19 pandemic worsens. There are staff physicians, program directors, program administrators, and many more people across the country who are clearly willing to collaborate and work together.
  3. Clear, consistent, coordinated and empathic communications from the national examination bodies is key to managing the stress of uncertainty.
  4. The CFPC, RCPSC and the MCC need to let candidates know what is certain and what remains uncertain in any communication, and that social media should be used to augment important messages after they have been delivered.
  5. Once new examination dates are announced, residents should be given appropriate and ample time to prepare for sitting the exam.
  6. The CFPC, RCPSC and the MCC should work with the medical regulatory authorities to streamline licensing for graduating residents so there are no delays to entering full clinical practice.

What Are We Doing?

  1. We are in constant contact with the CFPC, RCPSC and the MCC and we are responding quickly when they reach out to us for advice. We are convinced that they understand the impact of postponing the exams and that they are working hard to ensure candidates sit their exams as quickly as possible.
  2. We are reaching out to the Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada (FMRAC) to ask them to coordinate a consistent response by the provincial licensing authorities to mitigate any impact on your career should you not be able to sit the exam prior to entering practice.
  3. We are working to coordinate our Provincial Housestaff partners (RDBC, PARA, RDoS, PARIM, PARO, MarDocs and PARNL) so that we can all effectively advocate to the respective provincial licensing authority.
  4. We are working to find the best channels to advocate on behalf of our members who have plans to begin fellowships outside of Canada after July 1.
  5. We are ensuring that the three national examining bodies understand the impact of postponing exams on our members who are International Medical Graduates.
  6. We are ensuring that the three national examining bodies understand the implications on family planning decisions that many of our members have made in relation to the timing of the exams.
  7. We are ensuring that the three national examining bodies take into consideration the special needs of our members who are immunocompromised and who need to sit the exam.
  8. RDoC staff are working with your Provincial Housestaff Organization (PHO) to coordinate the sharing of best practices related to how the COVID-19 pandemic might affect your day to day life at work as a resident.

We don’t know what the world will look like in a few days; these are highly unusual circumstances that evolve every day. What we do know is that we have promised and are committed to ensuring that resident voices are well represented. We encourage you to continue to share your concerns with us at covid19@residentdoctors.ca so that we can continue to represent your best interests.

Emily Stewart, MD
PGY-4 Emergency Medicine
President, Resident Doctors of Canada

For other updates from RDoC on COVID-19 and exams, please see:

Update #1 on March 11, 2020

Update #2 on March 12, 2020

Update #4 on March 18, 2020

Update #5 on March 24, 2020

Update #6 on April 3, 2020