FAQs

We're answering all your COVID-19 questions and we'll endeavour to keep you updated. Contact us if you have a question not answered here.

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 the exceptional circumstances and your supervisors’ feedback when making progress decisions at the end of the year.

Are there changes to the Trainees in Difficulty 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 for physicians. Learning resources covering a range of different specialties can be found on our Online Learning Resources hub.

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 for physicians. 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 trainees and personal protective equipment (PPE)?

We’re advocating for access to PPE on behalf of all members.

See the Communicable Disease Network Australia’s PPE advice in National guidelines for public health units. Follow this advice and local clinical guidelines on using PPE during patient or community care.

Social 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?

The COVID-19 pandemic is evolving. 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?

All training requirements should be completed if possible. We’re asking all Advanced Training Committees and Faculty Education Committees to consider the overall progress of final year trainees, including supervisor sign-off for 2020.

For first- and second-year trainees, it's expected you'll be able to meet this requirement over the course of your training, by the end of your final year.

For final-year trainees, it's expected you would have thought about and started working on your research project by now. If you can't complete the project due to COVID-19 or haven't yet started, 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.

Refer to the research project guidelines in your AT Program.

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

At this stage, yes. Check the new deadline dates relevant for your circumstances.

Training Committees are reviewing training requirements to see what changes are needed during the pandemic. We’ll advise if the work-based assessments change.

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 Advanced Training logbook requirements?

Our Training Committees are reviewing 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.

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

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

Our Training Committees are reviewing 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.

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’re working 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.

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 Training or Head of Department.

The pandemic has changed my 2020 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. We’re working on a simple process to help you make changes to your training plans for 2020 and we’ll notify you once it’s been finalised.

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 current trainees now have an extra 12 months to meet their training program requirements. 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 Advanced Training in the middle of the year pending passing the Divisional Clinical Exam. How will my training be affected?

You can still progress to AT in the middle of the year 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 provisional AT

Read our guidance on provisional Advanced Training.

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

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 Advanced Training but don’t pass the postponed Clinical Exam?

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

Please refer to the pAT guidelines for more information.

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

Dates are now available in the DCE guide. There will be two offerings of the exam – 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.

With the postponement of exams, is there still a deadline to register and pay for exams?

Registrations will open in August 2020 for the postponed 2020 DCE. For more information, see the DCE guide.

Which exams have been cancelled or postponed?

Most exams have been postponed until late 2020/2021.

We’re looking at the timing and format of exams for next year and making contingency plans in case the pandemic continues into 2021. We’ll give you at least 3 months’ notice of the new exam dates.

Will you provide additional learning resources to help me prepare for the Divisional Clinical Examination, 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 currently being developed and will be published as soon as possible.

I've heard there won’t be enough Divisional Clinical Exam 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 Divisional Written Examination and rollout of computer-based testing?

There are currently no impacts on the Divisional Written Exam or the announced re-introduction of computer-based testing. We are developing contingency plans for the DWE should social distancing and other COVID-19 restrictions still be in place in February 2021.

The College previously advised the exam would be held in 2021. It is now being held in 2020 and I am unable to attend on the dates allocated to me due to planned commitments. Can I sit on another date?

We apologise for the change in dates. The dates have been selected based on large-scale consultation and the evolving COVID-19 situation.

If you have previous commitments during the new exam window, contact us when you register to sit the DCE and advise us of the dates you’re unable to attend.

If you’ve decided to remain in Basic Training 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 conferencing software doesn’t work during the Long Cases?

We’re finalising the arrangements for the Long Cases with the Clinical Examination Committees, including backup plans in case there are technology issues. If patients don’t pick up a call, reserve patients will be available like in previous DCEs.

Why has the College decided to change the DCE format?

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 video conferencing also means examiners, patients and potentially candidates can participate even if they must go into quarantine at short notice.

Will the splitting of the 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 New Zealand.

What happens if there is a second or third wave of COVID-19 in Australia and/or Aotearoa New Zealand and the DCE can no longer go ahead? Will it get postponed again?

Contingency planning for this scenario is underway for the COVID-19 Examinations Advisory Group to review. Further updates will be provided when available.

What happens if the DCE can go ahead in one state, territory or district but cannot go ahead in others due to different COVID-19 restriction levels and impacts?

This scenario is with the COVID-19 Examinations Advisory Group for discussion. We will provide further details when available.

Progression through training

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

Training committees are assessing and developing interim changes to their training program requirements and work-based assessments if COVID-19 has impacted training.

Keep an eye on the Basic Training and Advanced Training program pages and we’ll email all trainees and supervisors as decisions are made and implemented.

I’ve heard about provisional Advanced Training, where can I find out more?

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 Basic Training program?

Certification of training is usually undertaken at the end of the training year once all assessments and progress reports are submitted. We expect this to be in November 2020 in Aotearoa New Zealand and February or March 2021 in Australia.

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.

I’m in my final year of Basic Training. Can I still apply for 2021 Advanced Training positions, given the Divisional Clinical Exam (DCE) has been postponed?

Yes. Apply for an AT position only if you'll have completed all other BT requirements by the time the new position starts.

If you’re currently on the Training Support Pathway, your current supervising committee must also recommend you advance to provisional AT before you can apply for a position.

Read our guidance on provisional Advanced Training.

Will my progression to Advanced Training be delayed because of the postponed DCE?

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 Basic Training 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 provisional AT.

Read our guidance on provisional Advanced Training.

Trainees will get at least 3 months’ notice of the new exam dates.

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.

Advanced Training Committees make the final decision on completion of training and admission to Fellowship. They're reviewing 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?

We’re working with the Training Committees to review the impact of COVID-19 on current requirements. We’ll prepare program-specific guidance to address the impact on training time and what this means for certification of training time.


Fellows

My role as a physician

As a physician (addiction, sexual health, occupational and environmental) in Australia, which Telehealth item numbers are applicable to me? Are they the same ones other physicians use?

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 this year. Is it still going ahead?

We’re moving many workshops to Zoom. We’ll email you when we know if your workshop is going ahead, postponed to later in the year or cancelled.

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.

How can I help with delivering SPDP training?

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

How is COVID-19 changing the rollout of the new Basic Training program?

We’re working closely with the Directors of Physician or Paediatric Education at the planned 2020 Early Adopter training settings to monitor the situation and set up contingency plans in case training settings need to withdraw from the planned rollout.

The earliest the new Basic Training programs will rollout is the final rotation of the 2020 clinical year.

Examinations

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

We’re working with the STP Advisory Group to ensure that any pAT trainee in an STP funded position will not be disadvantaged should they fail the first available DCE. Once the STP Advisory Group have met, we will be able to provide further information.

For the new modular Divisional Clinical Examination (DCE) delivery format, what support and resources will be provided to me as a DPE or supervisor?

We’re collaborating with the Clinical Examination Committees to identify and create resources to support DPEs and supervisors in helping their trainees prepare for the DCE.


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.

Will 2021 training position recruitment still be between May and August?

Recruitment into training positions is led by local health departments who are currently considering if they need to amend this year’s dates. They’ll communicate details when available.

We’re meeting with local health jurisdictions regularly to discuss changes and we’ll update you as they become available. Watch our COVID-19 section for the latest information.


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