Accreditation FAQs and the RDoC Pre-Accreditation Questionnaire

University of Calgary – September 18 – 23, 2022

What is the RDoC Pre-Accreditation Questionnaire?
The Resident Doctors of Canada (RDoC) Pre-Accreditation Questionnaire is specifically designed to obtain your perspective on your training. The RDoC questionnaire was developed in 1983 and updated in 2018 to align with the new residency accreditation standards. We ask that every resident in a Royal College or Family Medicine program at the University of Calgary complete the RDoC Pre-Accreditation Questionnaire.

How is the RDoC Pre-Accreditation Questionnaire unique?
The RDoC questionnaire has been developed by residents for residents. We ask questions that gather both quantitative and qualitative information on your overall residency experience. It is a unique opportunity for you to provide your perspective on your training in a confidential manner as this full accreditation happens only once every 8 years.

What is accreditation?
Accreditation is a peer-reviewed continuous quality improvement process whereby information on the structure, process, and outcomes of an educational program, its educational environment, and the institution are evaluated against pre-defined educational standards by an independent organization. Accreditation is:

  • Aimed at improving the quality of postgraduate medical education
  • Permits objective evaluation of postgraduate medical education programs against minimum standards
  • Serves as a tool for program directors for planning review or evaluation of their programs and making necessary

Which bodies are responsible for PGME accreditation in Canada?
In Canada, the accreditation process is carried out conjointly among the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (Royal College), the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), and the Collège des médecins du Québec (CMQ) for schools in Québec. Together, the Colleges are identified as CanRAC – the Canadian Residency Accreditation CanRAC has led and facilitated the development of the new residency accreditation system, including the development of national conjoint standards for the evaluation and accreditation of residency programs.

Why is accreditation important in postgraduate medical education (PGME)?
Accreditation plays an integral role in the future of both the postgraduate medical education program, institution, and the postgraduate medical trainee. Residency programs at each university must be of such quality in order to ensure that their trainees meet the competencies required of physicians to serve Canadians in a professional, safe, and healthy manner.

Why is accreditation important to me?
Accreditation is one of your biggest opportunities to improve your residency program and it provides you with a unique opportunity to shape your program and ensure that your voice is included as this full accreditation happens only once every 8 years. Resident input is a cornerstone of the PGME accreditation system, and this will be a key opportunity to discuss your program with surveyors – celebrate the things you love about your program, as well as discuss any concerns you may have, or issues you believe need to be addressed.

Accreditation is meant to improve the quality of your residency education. It seeks to ensure that all necessary resources are available and utilized efficiently and effectively to enable residents to meet the training requirements of their specialty, subspecialty, or area of focused competence. In summary, the conjoint accreditation process:

  • Ensures quality of training for residents in Canada
  • Evaluates residency programs and institutions to ensure compliance with requirements
  • Facilitates continuous quality improvement (CQI) of residency programs and institutions
  • Ensures residents’ training enables them to meet the needs of the population to be served upon completion of training

What are my risks?
Accreditation is a peer-reviewed process of continuous quality improvement and is based on Standards common to all postgraduate medical training programs in Canada. Maintaining the standards means maintaining excellent programs and producing physicians who are ready for practice. A resident would not lose their position due to accreditation status. Accreditation is not intended to:

  • Demonstrate excellence of departments or services
  • Prove excellence and reputation of program, research, teachers, university
  • Observe residents’ performance

Why is accreditation being conducted?
The PGME accreditation process in Canada is based on a system of regular Accreditation reviews that occur every eight years. The University of Calgary will undergo its regular accreditation review from September 18 – 23, 2022. The accreditation will provide a first-hand peer-review evaluation of each accredited program and the institution, and a determination of the extent to which each program and the institution meets the Standards of Accreditation of the three Colleges.

What are the Standards of Accreditation?
The conjoint system of accreditation in Canada, known as Canadian Excellence in Residency Accreditation (CanERA), is built on Standards of Accreditation that allows for the objective assessment, accreditation, and continuous quality improvement of institutions and programs. The standards aim to ensure that residency programs adequately prepare residents to meet the health care needs of their patient population(s), upon completion of training. These Standards comprise:

  • General Standards of Accreditation for Institutions with Residency Programs
  • General Standards of Accreditation for Residency Programs
  • Discipline-specific standards (specific to each program)
  • Specific standards for Family Medicine (Red Book)

Why is residents’ input important?
The role of residents in accreditation cannot be overemphasized. The accreditation visit is an invaluable opportunity to improve residency education. Your input allows the CFPC and Royal College to work together with the University to improve postgraduate medical education. The feedback you provide will help programs continue to promote areas of strength and at the same time, focus on areas that need improvement. Maintaining standards means maintaining excellent programs and producing physicians who are ready for practice.

How is the information from the RDoC pre-accreditation questionnaire used?
RDoC will collate the results and prepare a Pre-Accreditation Report of the feedback received. The information you provide will not be shared with your program, your program director, your faculty, your institution, or your Residency Program Committee. Only the resident members of the Royal College and CFPC Survey Teams (resident surveyors) will receive these reports to prepare them for the on-site visit.

High-level Pre-Accreditation Synthesis Reports will also be prepared by RDoC. It will contain very general collated information synthesized to a further degree from the results of the questionnaire. The Synthesis Reports will be shared with the Royal College and CFPC Accreditation Survey Teams. All information you provide will remain confidential and no individual responses will be shared in any component of the shared materials.

What is a surveyor?
A surveyor ensures that standards for residency education are being maintained in all programs. Surveyors are part of a team that visits the medical school during the scheduled accreditation review. There will be approximately four resident surveyors appointed to the Royal College survey team, two resident surveyors to the CFPC survey team, and one resident surveyor to the institutional survey team. These residents are full members of the Royal College and CFPC teams and are appointed by RDoC. Resident surveyors will be present at some program reviews during your accreditation review.

What is the CanRAC survey?
CanRAC will be surveying residents and faculty annually via a 13-question survey. The information collected will be made available to schools to ensure continuous quality improvement. The questions are quantitative in nature whereas the RDoC pre-accreditation questionnaire will be collecting both quantitative and qualitative information.

My program is being reviewed during the on-site accreditation visit. How can I best prepare?

  1. Complete the RDoC pre-accreditation questionnaire prior to the Colleges’ accreditation
  2. Members of the survey team will meet with residents during the accreditation review. Therefore, prior to this, residents in a program should meet as a group amongst themselves, to discuss what they feel are the strengths and areas of improvement for their program and what they would like to share with the surveyors.
  3. Be prepared to answer key questions during the survey team Your feedback will help your program continue to promote (work on) the areas of strength and, at the same time, focus on areas that need improvement. For example:
    1. What program strengths do you wish to highlight? b. What are the areas that need improvement?
    2. What can accreditation do to improve your residency program?
    3. What resources do you need?
    4. How would you describe your residency program’s learning environment?
    5. How and how often do you receive feedback on your performance?
    6. How is safety/wellness promoted throughout the learning environment?
  4. Concerns about a training program should be identified by residents prior to the on-site survey visit (for example, at the Residency Program Committee, University-led Internal Review )

If you wish to read more information about accreditation from a resident’s perspective, please visit RDoC’s accreditation webpage.