Royal College Examination COVID-19 Contingency Plan

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Medical trainees in their final year of post-graduate training across Canada are set to write their final qualifying exams this spring. These residents have made profound sacrifices in their lives over the last fifteen years, particularly within the last twelve months, to arrive at this point. 

COVID-19 is an unprecedented, unforeseen occurrence. Many of us, despite the looming presence of the Royal College examination, play a critical role in essential front-line management of this virus. As such, its potential to derail our examinations and training timeline is evident.

This morning we received communication regarding the current status of our examinations. You stated that as of now, there are no delays anticipated. The contingency plan proposed, should the pandemic interrupt our ability to sit the exam, would be to defer the 2020 exam until the next sitting. 

We do not believe this to be an acceptable solution. As previously mentioned, considerable personal sacrifice has been made to get to this point. Fellowships, locum opportunities and clinic leases have already been arranged. Houses have been sold and moving companies have been hired.

We propose the following options that would allow us to proceed in proving competency in our fields and to progress with our careers as planned, while simultaneously mitigating the risks of this pandemic. Please note, these suggestions pertain primarily to examinations that require travel (usually the oral), and we assume local exams (usually the written) can still be administered.

1) Please carefully weigh the importance of completing this examination on-time and in-person against the risks associated with travel.

2) Should it be unsafe to travel, the oral examination should be administered via a telecommunication method.

3) If a telecommunication method is not feasible, the residency training programs should be entrusted to administer the oral examinations to their residents.

4) If solutions 2 and 3 are not achievable, the residents should be exempt from exam components necessitating travel. That is, residents should be considered successful after passing only written exams.

We appreciate your efforts and commitment to post-graduate training and assessment.


Dr. Dylan Hoare, PGY5 Urology

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