Exams and COVID-19

Sent by Dr. Ryan Giroux, PARO President, February 11th 2021

Dear Colleague,

From the outset of this pandemic, PARO has worked closely with our national partner, Resident Doctors of Canada, and our provincial partners to advocate that the safety of residents and the patients they treat be priority number one with respect to exams. We have also effectively advocated to ensure that the inability to write a critical exam due to COVID-19 not be an impediment to transitioning into practice. Our combined advocacy efforts, in partnership with the Universities and the CFPC and RCPSC resulted in the regulatory bodies developing a COVID-19 Provisional License requiring minimal supervision.

Over the past few months, we have heard multiple stories of our former members encountering difficulties in establishing a full time or permanent position with a provisional license. We have also been acutely aware of the ongoing and mounting stress of repeated postponements and cancellations of the MCCQEII exam. As a result, we have been actively working, with a solution-oriented mindset, to bring this to the attention of key individuals.

I am very pleased to tell you that on Tuesday night the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario had a special meeting of CPSO Council. The purpose of the meeting was to consider an MCCQE2 exam pandemic exemption policy. The policy proposal was approved and in accordance with the rules that the CPSO operates under, this policy will now be circulated to the Ontario Minister of Health, the co-ordinating Minister under the Ontario Labour Mobility Act, and the other medical regulatory authorities in Canada. In addition, the medical regulatory authorities will be provided with an opportunity to comment. Following this consultation process, the policy will be presented to the CPSO Council in March to be considered for final approval.

In a message we received from the CPSO yesterday, we learned that the exemption policy that is being considered will apply to anyone who:

  • was eligible to sit one of the postponed MCCQE2 sittings;
  • is currently registered in Ontario or were registered in Ontario with the CPSO when they were eligible to sit the QE2 exam;
  • are within 24 months of completion of their postgraduate training; and,
  • who meets all other requirements for issuance of an Independent Practice Certificate at the CPSO.

This is a big step in the right direction and once it is passed, will bring certainty to the lives of those who have been in a suspended state waiting to see when they might be able to sit the QE2 exam. As we get more clarity on who exactly is covered by this policy, we will be sure to let you know.

Just as PARO has effectively advocated to ensure that the pandemic doesn’t interfere with your ability to transition into practice, we will continue to advocate that any exam that we are required to take is relevant to our training and experience.

As always, and especially because this is Resident Doctor Awareness Week, I want to thank our members who have been at the front lines of the pandemic and show up each and every day for our patients. Your trust in PARO and RDoC to show up for you during the pandemic is greatly appreciated and we are proud to be your representative organization.

Additionally, I want to thank the CPSO for demonstrating bold leadership in ensuring that Ontario patients can be treated by this cohort of doctors. It is significant that this proposed policy recognizes that the lack of the QE2 exam is not an impediment to the provision of high-quality competent care by these recent graduates.

Warm regards,

Dr. Ryan Giroux

PARO President