COVID-19

As a professional medical college whose aim is to help physicians deliver excellent healthcare, it's our responsibility to put the safety of our members and the community we serve above all else.

We'll share regular updates from the Australian Government, Department of Health and the Aotearoa New Zealand Ministry of Health.


What we're doing

Following advice from the Australian and Aotearoa New Zealand Governments and recommendations for social distancing, we're postponing, cancelling or live streaming key events and ceremonies for the unforeseeable future. CPD deadlines have been extended.

All committee meetings will be held virtually through our video-conference provider, Zoom. Contact the relevant committee secretary for more information.

Exams

After carefully considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we've made the extremely difficult, but necessary, decision to postpone most 2020 exams.

To give you time to prepare, we’ll give you at least 3 months’ notice of any rescheduled exams.

Postponed until 2021

Divisional Clinical Examination*
AFRM Module 1 Written Assessment
AFRM Module 2 Clinical Assessment
AFRM Fellowship Written Examination (General)
AFRM Fellowship Written Examination (Paediatrics)
AFRM Fellowship Clinical Examination (General)
AFRM Fellowship Clinical Examination (Paediatric)
AFPHM Oral Examination

*Candidates eligible for the 2020 exam will be able to provisionally progress to Advanced Training in the new clinical year.

Still under consideration

AFOEM Stage A Written Examination
AFOEM Stage B Written Examination
AFOEM Stage B Practical Examination
AChSHM Exit Assessment**

**Currently proposed to be held as scheduled via video in August 2020.

Events, conferences and convocation

We've cancelled RACP Congress 2020, originally scheduled from 4 to 6 May in Melbourne. Those who've registered will receive a full refund.

We've also postponed the Convocation Ceremony, originally scheduled for May 2020 in Melbourne. All new Fellows who've been invited, or have registered to attend, will be contacted with further information. We understand this news may be difficult for some. Your safety and wellbeing is important to us.

Other events that have been cancelled include the Aotearoa New Zealand Trainees’ Day and the Tri-Nations International Medical Symposium and associated events.

For questions regarding specific events, email events@racp.edu.au

CPD requirements

We know the impact of COVID-19 on our Fellows is enormous. Many of you will struggle to meet CPD requirements this year due to cancellation of conferences, withdrawn leave requests and reprioritisation of workforce needs.

Regulators in Australia and New Zealand have updated their expectations for 2020 CPD.

2019 requirements

Fellows with incomplete 2019 CPD records will have automatic extensions until midnight (AWST) Friday 31 July 2020. There's no fee for this extension.

We're monitoring the situation closely to determine if further extensions for 2019 CPD records are necessary.

2020 requirements — Australia

The Medical Board of Australia (MBA) won’t take action if you can’t meet the CPD registration standard when you renew your medical registration this year and neither will the College. The MBA encourages you to continue to do CPD relevant to your scope of practice.

2020 requirements — Aotearoa New Zealand

The Medical Council of New Zealand will exempt all general and vocationally-registered doctors from recertification programme requirements until 28 February 2021.

Doctors returning to practice from 26 March 2020 don't need to enrol in the Inpractice or College programme until 28 February 2021.

Doctors won't be audited for compliance with recertification programmes over the next 11 months. You’ll need to be enrolled and actively participating in required programmes from 1 March 2021.

A note to all Fellows

We know many of you will complete a multitude of CPD activities this year, whether up-skilling in the use of telehealth for virtual consultations, reviewing online mental health resources, or vaccine development for those in immunology and infectious diseases research.

The types of innovation we’re currently seeing from our medical profession are perhaps the ultimate CPD. We won’t monitor or audit CPD records in 2020 but they will still be open if you wish to record your CPD.

Education and training principles

We recognise many trainees and training settings are concerned about the impact of postponing exams and cancelling training events on job applications, training time, progression through training and accreditation.

We've established two new groups to advise on key decisions in these areas — COVID-19 Examinations Advisory Group and COVID-19 Training and Accreditation Advisory Group.

We've also developed a new set of education and training principles to guide our decision-making during the pandemic and provide our position on potential impacts to training.

  1. Providing patient care for individuals and the community whilst maintaining a healthy workforce are fundamental priorities at this time.
  2. Trainees should be reassured that the impact of COVID-19 will be considered “exceptional circumstances” and any absences from training as a result will be treated fairly and with compassion.
  3. The College recognises that approved training may be significantly disrupted in the coming months. Trainees may be redeployed in order to support the COVID-19 response. For each training program, guidance will be developed in consultation with Training Committees on how COVID-19 support rotations will be assessed, taking into account the current training requirements.
  4. All College Training Committees will act consistently, transparently and fairly.
  5. Trainees must continue to receive appropriate orientation and supervision, even if they are redeployed to a different clinical area.
  6. Support is available to trainees and supervisors who may want to consider or discuss increasing or decreasing training hours or apply for interruption of training as a result of family or personal commitments changes resulting from COVID-19.
  7. The exceptional circumstances and possible program exceptions recognised in the 2020 training year will, at this stage, not apply to subsequent training years. However, it is recognised that the disruptions to training this year may well have flow on effects to subsequent years for some trainees. Trainees should keep detailed and accurate records of changes to their training program.
  8. The College appreciates the overload on health systems during this crisis and understands that the normal cycle of accreditation may require adjustment. Any requirement for accreditation site visits will be reviewed on a case by case basis and in consultation with the site.
  9. The College will communicate updates to all members as decisions are made, including information relating to exams, training requirements, training time and accreditation.
  10. Matters that are common to all training programs will be the responsibility of the College Education Committee. Matters relating to specific training program requirements and individuals will still be the responsibility of the respective Training Committees.
  11. The health and wellbeing of trainees, educators and their families or whānau is paramount. RACP support resources are available, including access to a free confidential and independent help line.

We'll update trainees and those in training sites as key decisions are made.


Advocacy, advice and news

Advocacy

We have several advocacy activities underway to support you:

  • We contacted the Australian state and federal Department of Health and Ministry of Health in Aotearoa New Zealand to emphasise the importance of government support for our Fellows and trainees at the frontline of this crisis. We highlighted personal protective equipment (PPE) and health and safety considerations.
  • We received concerning reports on community-based specialists having difficulty accessing PPE. Through the media, we’re calling on governments to ensure all specialist physicians, as well as GPs, have access to PPE. We raised the issue with the Australian Federal Health Minister’s office and the Department of Health and we're also talking with New Zealand authorities.
  • In Australia, expanded access to telehealth is a top priority. We're collecting examples from members and pursuing circumstances requiring expanded access.

RACP COVID-19 Expert Reference Group

We've formed a COVID-19 Expert Reference Group (ERG) with specialists in infectious diseases, public health, occupational and environmental medicine, geriatrics, paediatrics and respiratory medicine.

The ERG meets weekly to discuss advocacy priorities, review government advice on COVID-19 and identify resources to share with members. Members will receive weekly updates on COVID-19 happenings.

Media releases

RACP supports expansion of telehealth (29 March 2020)
RACP rejects idea of moving to exclude COVID-19 from death cover (27 March 2020)
Physicians welcome expansion of telehealth (23 March 2020)
Physicians call for Telehealth to be expanded to all consultations (20 March 2020)
Physicians need access to personal protective equipment (18 March 2020)
Physicians welcome Government response package COVID 19 (11 March 2020)


Resources

Employment

Employment New Zealand — Workplace response to coronavirus (COVID-19) (Aotearoa NZ)
FairWork Ombudsman — Coronavirus and Australian workplace laws (Australia)
Safe Work Australia — Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice for Employers (Australia)

International resources

Converge International
Johns Hopkins — Coronavirus Resource Center
PanSurg — Safer surgical care during the COVID-19 pandemic
Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health UK — COVID-19 guidance for paediatric services
World Health Organization — Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak
World Health Organization — Advice for the public (videos)

Wellbeing

Converge International

The RACP can’t emphasise enough the importance of our members taking care of their mental wellbeing during this time. The RACP Support Program is a free, fully confidential and independent helpline which is available to you 24/7 and is managed by Converge International.

Converge International has also created ‘CoronaCare’, a curated series of aligned support approaches specifically targeted at individuals and teams who are working in a significantly disrupted environment. There are three individual support services:

White Ribbon Australia – Domestic Violence Hotlines  (Australia)

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