FAQs

We're answering all your COVID-19 questions and will keep you updated.

Wellbeing

I’ve been impacted by changes to training. How is the College supporting me?

Your health and wellbeing is incredibly important to us. Our support resources are available to all members and includes a free, confidential and independent helpline.

Our guiding principle is to treat all trainees fairly and with compassion. Impacts of COVID-19 on training will be considered as exceptional circumstances.


I’ve had to self-isolate. Do I have access to additional leave from training?

If you need to self-isolate or take leave due to illness or carers’ responsibilities because of COVID-19, you can take up to 14 days of leave from training in addition to the standard 8 weeks. You need to provide supporting evidence from your employer, GP or other medical practitioner.

If you need more leave than this, your Training Committee will consider exceptional circumstances and your supervisors’ feedback when making progress decisions at the end of the year. Inform your Training Committee of any changes to your training as early as feasible.


Are there changes to the Trainees in Difficulty Policy and Support Pathway?

We won’t make changes to the pathway or requirements at this time. Our primary goal is to maintain a safe and healthy workforce throughout the stresses caused by COVID-19. Contact us if you have concerns about your support or need to discuss your current situation.

Clinical support

Where do I get information and advice on conducting physical examinations of patients?

Refer to the World Health Organisation's technical guidance for health workers.


Are there clinical resources for managing COVID-19 cases?

Check out the advice and news on COVID-19 for the most recent clinical advice. Learning resources covering a range of specialties can be found on our Online Learning Resources.


How can I protect myself, my colleagues and my patients?

Check out the advice and news on COVID-19 for the most recent clinical advice.

Follow the guidance from the Australian Government, Australian Government Department of Health, and the Aotearoa New Zealand Ministry of Health.


What is the College's position on personal protective equipment (PPE)?

We continue to advocate for appropriate access to PPE on your behalf.

Find out more about accessing, sourcing and using PPE.


Trainees and physical distancing

Physical distancing requirements apply to supervision and assessments. Speak to your supervisor or DPE with any concerns.


I’m pregnant/asthmatic/diabetic/have an underlying health condition. What advice do you have for me?

Refer to advice on the Australian Department of Health and the New Zealand Ministry of Health in the first instance.

Read our Guidance for pregnant healthcare workers (PDF).


Trainees

Training requirements

Do I need to complete my AT research project? If I can't, how do I apply for a waiver?

You're currently expected to satisfactorily complete the 2021 training program requirements as published in the AT Program handbooks, including research projects.

For final-year trainees during 2020, if you haven't been able to complete the project due to COVID-19, apply for a waiver by sending the following information to your specialty inbox. Copy your research supervisor (for those who've started a project) and educational supervisor*:

  1. Describe the reasons you’re unable to start or complete the project. What is it about the project that now makes it impossible to complete?
  2. Give an overview of the impact of COVID-19 on your workload and why this makes it impossible to complete or undertake the project. You could provide this information using the 2020 amendment form for your AT program (available soon on your specialty webpage).
  3. If you’ve begun your project, include a copy of your research protocol and evidence to support your reasons.

* Your education supervisor must endorse your waiver by email.


Do I need to complete work-based assessments this year?

Yes. Check the deadlines relevant for your circumstances, revised due to 2020 dates. For 2021 due dates, see the 'Important Dates' section of your AT Program handbook.

We expect all training is supervised and supported, whether you’re in a planned training position or have been redeployed to cover COVID-19. Your training should include opportunities to receive regular feedback and complete your work-based assessments.


Are there exemptions or extensions to the AT logbook requirements?

Our Training Committees reviewed training requirements to determine if any additional changes are needed during the pandemic. This includes guidance on requirements that may be waived, extended or replaced by another form of assessment. Refer to the guidelines in your AT Program handbook.


My training program requires me to attend conferences, events or external courses. Can I get exemptions to these requirements?

For 2020, the College Education Committee agreed that the requirement to attend or present at conferences or events is waived. Final-year ATs may have to do an alternative assessment.

Your Training Committees reviewed requirements twice in 2020 to determine if changes were needed and ensure you're supported through 2021. Refer to the guidelines in your AT Program handbook.

Training rotations

My planned training rotations have changed due to my training setting’s response to COVID-19. How will this affect my training time certification?

Training during the COVID-19 pandemic could be a valuable experience for all trainees if appropriate orientation and supervision is in place. We want as much training to count towards your program requirements as possible. There are still minimum requirements though that need to be met.

We worked with the Training Committees to review training requirements and provide information for each program on the impact of COVID-19 on training, training rotations and certification of training time. See the guidelines in your Basic Training or Advanced Training Program handbook.


My training setting has allocated me to a COVID-19 ward without a supervisor. What should I do?

We expect all training is supervised and supported, whether you’re in a planned training position or have been redeployed to cover COVID-19. If you don’t know who your supervisor is, speak to your Director of Physician/Paediatric Education or Head of Department.


The pandemic has changed my training plans. How can I change my planned interruption of training or FTE hours in training?

A lot of unpredicted change has happened since you submitted your annual application for BT or AT.

Submit amendments to your rotation or training as soon as you're aware of them. Use the amendment forms in your Basic Training or Advanced Training Program handbooks or contact us. 2020 forms must be submitted no later than your end of year supervisor reports.


I need to withdraw from training for a period as my training plans fell through unexpectedly. Can I have an extension to my overall time limit to complete training?

Yes. All trainees who started in 2020 or earlier have an extra 12 months to complete their current training program. This is in addition to the time limits outlined in the Progression Through Training Policy.


Will you refund or adjust training and exam fees if training is unexpectedly interrupted or if rotations no longer count towards meeting training requirements?

Our current policy allows us to refund fees when training has not been approved. For 2020 only, trainees won’t be charged an interruption fee or a continuation fee. Training and exam fees will continue to be reviewed as a result of COVID-19.


Will training fees be reduced due to family income being impacted?

No, training fees won't be reduced. However, you can pay by instalment or through a tailored payment plan. Contact us for assistance.

Examinations

I was due to begin AT in the middle of 2020 pending passing the DCE. How will my training be affected?

In 2020, you were allowed to progress to provisional AT (pAT) if you:

  • completed all other BT requirements, including passing the Divisional Written Examination AND
  • secured an AT position that starts after the date you would have sat the clinical exam in 2020 (this position must be in an accredited AT setting, approved by the relevant AT Committee) AND
  • plan to sit the rescheduled 2020 DCE in late 2020/early 2021

For Basic Trainees currently on the Training Support Pathway:

  • all of the above conditions must be met AND
  • your current supervising committee must recommend advancing to pAT

Will there be provisions made for trainees who won’t be able to sit the postponed DCE?

If you’re approved for pAT, you must sit the exam on the postponed date for the 2020 cohort in late 2020/early 2021. You’ll be able to re-sit the exam later in 2021 if you don’t pass.

If you're not applying for or in pAT, but were eligible to sit the 2020 DCE, you’re encouraged to sit the first DCE in late 2020/early 2021. Alternatively, you can choose to wait and sit later in the year with the 2021 cohort instead.


What happens if I provisionally move to AT but don’t pass the postponed DCE?

Any training provisionally approved as 'conditional upon passing the Clinical Examination' will not be accepted as AT.

See the pAT guidelines for more information.


Are there proposed dates for the rescheduled exams? Will there be 2 of each exam in 2021?

DCE dates are available. There will be 2 exam offerings – one in late 2020/early 2021 for the postponed 2020 cohort, and the second in mid-2021 for the 2021 cohort.

If you fail the 2020 exam, you’ll be able to re-sit the DCE later in the year with the 2021 exam cohort, exam attempts limits allowing.


Which exams have been cancelled or postponed?

Most exams have been postponed until late 2020/2021 or combined with the 2021 exam. Many exam dates are now available and we’re and making contingency plans in case the pandemic impacts exams in 2021. We’ll give you at least 3 months’ notice of any new exam dates.


Will you provide additional learning resources to help me prepare for the DCE, since my hospital-based teaching sessions are disrupted?

The College Learning Series and other learning resources are available on our Online Learning Resources hub. Use these as part of your exam preparation.

Additional online resources are available on the 'Prepare' tab for the Paediatrics & Child Health and Adult Medicine DCE.


I've heard there won’t be enough DCE places for all candidates in 2021 and there will be a ballot for places 2021. Is this true?

There will not be a ballot for places. We plan for all eligible candidates to be able to sit the DCE in 2021.


How does postponing exams impact the 2021 DWE and rollout of computer-based testing?

There are currently no impacts on the DWE or the announced re-introduction of computer-based testing. We developed plans for the DWE to meet social distancing and other COVID-19 restrictions.


I'm unable to attend on my allocated dates. Can I sit on another date?

If you have previous commitments on your allocated exam date, contact us.

If you decided to remain in BT for the next clinical year, you can choose to sit the exam later in 2021 with the 2021 cohort. If you’ve applied for or already entered pAT, you will need to sit the exam in late 2020/early 2021.


What happens if a patient doesn’t show up or the video conference or teleconference software doesn’t work during the Long Cases?

See more about the backup plans for technology issues during the DCE. If patients don’t pick up a call, reserve patients will be available like in previous DCEs.


Why has the DCE format changed?

We’ve consulted with health departments and hospital sites and with the current COVID-19 restrictions they want changes made to reduce the public health risks related to the exam. Changes include reducing:

  • face-to-face interactions with patients
  • patients coming into hospitals for non-clinical reasons
  • interstate travel undertaken by our candidates and examiners

We’ve evaluated using technology and increasing exam capacity for a number of years. The new modular format will support this.

The new model also gives us increased flexibility over when the Long Cases can be held. It makes running the Short Cases easier since they’re no longer required to be held on the same day as the Long Cases and fewer patients are required to attend.

With the expected ongoing impacts of COVID-19, moving to teleconfernce and video conference also means examiners, patients and potentially candidates can participate even if they must go into quarantine at short notice.


Will splitting Long and Short Cases make it easier to pass the exam or change the pass rate?

You’re assessed based on meeting the expected standard rather than how you perform in comparison to other candidates. Your performance is rated using the CLEAR scoring rubric. As the exam format and scoring criteria have not changed, the standard and pass rate aren’t expected to change.


Will the 2020 DCE count towards my official exam attempts?

If you’re unsuccessful in the postponed 2020 exam, it will not be counted as an official exam attempt. This has been approved by the College Education Committee in recognition of the disruptions many trainees have faced in their training and exam preparation this year.

This currently applies only if you sit the postponed 2020 exam on its rescheduled dates, not if you choose to sit the exam later.

This decision applies to Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.


What happens if there's another wave of COVID-19 and the DCE can no longer go ahead? Will it get postponed again?

We’ve developed contingency plans for this scenario.

Our aim is that all candidates eligible to sit the 2020 DCE will be able to meet their required Basic Training assessments by the end of 2021. If this requires an alternative assessment to the current Long and/or Short Cases, a decision will be made by mid-2021. The 2020 rescheduled exam will not be delayed into 2022 or beyond.


What happens if the DCE can go ahead in one state, territory or district but not in others due to different COVID-19 restrictions?

If one or more hospitals/states/territories/districts can’t go ahead with an exam on its planned date due to COVID-19, those in unaffected areas can still go ahead on their planned date.

Progression through training

When will I know what changes have been made to my training program?

To support settings, supervisors and trainees impacted by COVID-19, training committees developed interim changes to 2020 and 2021 program requirements and work-based assessments. Emails are sent to all trainees and supervisors as decisions are made and implemented.

Keep an eye on your Basic Training and Advanced Training program for updates.


Where can I find out more about provisional Advanced Training?

Read our guidance on provisional Advanced Training.


How do I know if I've satisfactorily completed 36 months of certified training time and the mandatory (core) requirements of the BT program?

Certification of training is usually undertaken at the end of the training year once all assessments and progress reports are submitted.

If you're training in Aotearoa New Zealand, certification decisions will be communicated between November 2020 and January 2021. This is due to the clinical year date change.

In Australia, decisions will be communicated in February or March 2021.

If you've already completed your BT requirements, you should have received your certification confirmation email.

If you’re unsure, check your BT portal or contact us.


Will my progression to AT be delayed because the DCE has been postponed?

We’ll make temporary changes to the Selection into Training Policy. These changes will allow trainees in their final year of BT to provisionally progress into AT without passing the DCE.

If you were hoping to sit the DCE this year, you can apply for provisional Advanced Training (pAT) for either later in 2020 or in 2021 if you:

  • completed all other BT requirements, including passing the DWE AND
  • secured an AT position that starts after the date you would have sat the clinical exam in 2020 (this position must be in an accredited AT setting, approved by the relevant AT Committee) AND
  • plan to sit the rescheduled 2020 DCE in late 2020/early 2021

For Basic Trainees currently on the Training Support Pathway:

  • all of the above conditions must be met AND
  • your current supervising committee must recommend advancing to provisional AT.

Read our guidance on provisional Advanced Training.


Will my admission to Fellowship be delayed because of COVID-19?

Training during COVID-19 is a valuable experience for all trainees and we’ll try to make training during this year count as much as possible.

AT supervisors can recommend progression into Fellowship for final year trainees whose training time hasn’t been completed due to the pandemic.

AT Committees make the final decision on completion of training and admission to Fellowship. They also reviewed training requirements to determine if any additional changes are needed during the pandemic. This includes guidance on requirements that can be waived, extended or replaced by another form of assessment.


Is my training in 2020 going to be certified or will my training progress be delayed?

Training during COVID-19 is a valuable experience for all trainees and we’ll try to make it count as much as possible.

Training Committees make the final decision on completion of and progression through training and have developed interim changes to their training program requirements and work-based assessments for 2020 and 2021. Submit your PREP assessments by the published due dates and contact us as soon as possible if you need extensions or support.


What are my training options based on the outcome of my DCE?

Training pathway options vary between Australian and Aotearoa NZ trainees depending on their current training status and examination result. View a breakdown of each pathway based on your current situation.


Fellows

My role as a physician

Which Telehealth item numbers apply to me?

Refer to the MBS website. Find advice on Medicare billing, claiming, payments and obtaining a provider number on Services Australia — Health Professionals or ring 13 21 50.


What should I do if my annual income is severely affected by COVID-19? Do I still need to pay my membership fees?

If you meet the income criteria, you can apply for a fee exemption.


I'm a retired physician. What are my obligations regarding returning to the workforce as part of the pandemic sub-register?

You won't be charged any College fees and won't have any CPD obligations. Contact us so we can update your record.

College requirements

How will COVID-19 affect my CPD for 2019 and 2020?

The deadline for 2019 has been extended until 31 July 2020. For 2020, the MBA won’t take action if CPD requirements aren't met.


I registered for a SPDP workshop. Is it still going ahead?

Workshops have been planned as virtual via zoom or face-to-face. We'll notify participants before the workshop if a change must be made to delivery format.

Find the latest information on future workshops.


What happens if I don’t complete one SPDP workshop by the end of 2020 deadline?

You have a 12-month extension to complete your first SPDP module. All supervisors must complete 1 workshop by the end of 2021. The deadline to complete all 3 workshops is still the end of 2022.


Am I eligible for an exemption from SPDP?

To be eligible for an exemption, you must have completed:

  • formal medical education studies or equivalent supervisor training with another medical college (like the RCPA)
  • a minimum of 3 years’ experience as a RACP supervisor.

You can only apply for an exemption from SPDP 1 and SPDP 2.


Can I help deliver SPDP training?

If you’ve completed SPDP facilitator training and want to facilitate either via Zoom or online, email supervisor@racp.edu.au

Examinations

What happens to a provisional Advanced Training (pAT) trainee in a Specialist Training Program (STP) funded position if they fail the DCE?

The RACP STP Advisory Group approved the continuation of STP funding for pATs who fail the rescheduled 2020 DCE until they resit it later in 2021. During this period, the trainee will be a Continuation Basic Trainee or unaccredited advanced trainee and it's assumed they remain in the STP-funded position.


Training settings

Accreditation

How are you managing the planned re-accreditation of training settings?

All accreditation visits scheduled for 2020 are postponed to 2021. At-risk settings with trainee safety concerns or training quality issues will be prioritised for the first visits when accreditation resumes. We’ll conduct assessments via videoconference if needed.

Any training settings identified as at-risk of losing accreditation during the pandemic need to provide us with progress reports, outlining strategies to address identified risks.


My training setting has made changes to our team location, clinics and activities in readiness for COVID-19 cases. Will this impact our accreditation status?

We understand the need to make urgent changes to rotations which will impact training experiences and clinical exposure. The COVID-19 Training and Accreditation Advisory Group is considering some simple processes for training settings to advise us of temporary changes to planned training activities.


My training setting has applied for RACP accreditation. Can we still have trainees at our site if accreditation visits are delayed?

Unaccredited training settings still need to go through the RACP accreditation process before training is allowed. We’re working with the Training Committees to increase flexibility to this rule. This includes investigating a provisional accreditation process.

Entry and selection into training

Do you have advice for selection and recruitment panels this year in the absence of Divisional Clinical Examination results?

The delay of the Divisional Clinical Exam is beyond trainees’ control. Instead of looking at exam pass marks, consider trainees’ overall competency and suitability for training positions in your settings.

Find out more about fair and transparent selection and recruitment processes.

Contact us if you have a question not answered here.

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