Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada issues four-point plan for fall exams for spring 2020 candidates

April 9, 2020 | Author: Royal College Staff

April, 9, 2020 (Ottawa, Ontario) – With the World Health Organization’s declaration of a COVID-19 pandemic and the rapidly evolving situation in Canada – as well as with the safety of residents, examiners, staff and public in mind – the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada has issued a four-point plan for specialist exams that were postponed to fall 2020.

“On March 13, the Royal College made the difficult decision of postponing the delivery of the spring medical specialty exams to September 2020 at the earliest and we apologize for impacting residents in this way,” says Dr. Susan Moffatt-Bruce, Chief Executive Officer for the Royal College. “Medical regulatory authorities across Canada have confirmed exam requirements for full licensure and we will ensure that they are delivered fairly and safely. Today, we would like to share a four-point plan with the safety and future success of residents in mind.”

The four-point plan released today:

1. Oral exams will not be required for the spring 2020 cohort. Spring 2020 candidates will only be required to take a written exam (to be held in fall 2020) for specialty certification. The spring 2020 candidates will not need to complete the oral component of the comprehensive exam.

The written exam format (MCQ, SAQ) and length will be unchanged and continues to be based on the objectives of training of the discipline.

Before the exam: residents will be required to provide:

    • Signed re-affirmation from program directors that indicate residents have met the required competencies to attempt the written examination. This will be organized between the Royal College and Canadian universities for the spring 2020 cohort.
    • Repeat exam takers, international medical graduates and U.S. graduates will be requested to provide the necessary documentation for re-affirmation from an appropriate supervisor.

Write the written exam: Residents will then be required to take a written exam. All residents who pass the written exam will be immediately certified.

For those who fail the written exam: If a resident does not pass the written exam, the resident will not be eligible for certification this year. Residents who fail will need to apply again next year; however, the resident will not exhaust an attempt in sitting this exam. We have extended everyone who was exam eligible in spring 2020 an extra year of eligibility.

2. We will inform candidates of the dates for the exams. The Royal College set a goal of September 2020 for the exam, and will be in a position to give residents firm dates once we have confirmed the sites where exams will be held. We commit to providing a minimum of 6 weeks’ notice. This will allow us to monitor progress on COVID-19 and make the necessary logistical adjustments, if needed.

3. Test sites will be expanded so residents can take the exam closer to home. We previously had 14 test sites across the country. Together with our academic and health partners, we are expanding the number of test sites to allow residents to take the test as close to their homes or work places as possible. Test sites will adhere to ongoing physical distancing protocols. We will provide more information on test locations once we have confirmed them with our partners.

4. Fees for the oral exam will be refunded. We will reimburse oral exam fees as quickly as possible. We will expedite their refund of the $2,215 fee within the next 60 days.

“As the Royal College made plans for a new fall exam, we heard from many residents – they shared their concerns, thoughts and ideas for how to make a fall exam work,” says Dr. Moffatt-Bruce. “The Royal College is very grateful for this input and collaboration – your voices helped shape a collaborative response to this unprecedented challenge.”

For more details on the four-point plan, please visit:

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About the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada

The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada is the national professional association that oversees the medical education of specialists in Canada. We accredit the university programs that train resident physicians for their specialty practices, and we administer the examinations that residents must pass to become certified as specialists. In collaboration with health organizations and government agencies, the Royal College also plays a role in developing sound health policy in Canada.

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Melissa Nisbett
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