RDoC Update on COVID-19 and Exams

October 30th, 2020

Dear Colleague,

Over the course of my term as President, I will ensure that we provide you with timely updates when we have important information to share. We will do this when we have information that we know to be true or that we believe will be of help.


We have just had confirmation from the Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada (FMRAC), that the 13 provincial and territorial regulatory authorities will extend the commonly called “COVID-19” provisional licenses for the 2020 cohort who have been unable to sit the MCCQEII exam. Additionally, they have confirmed that anyone in the 2021 graduate cohort who is unable to take the MCCQEII exam, either because it is not being offered or because it is over-subscribed, will be provided with a “COVID-19” provisional license. We know that there have been some issues with access to provisional licenses in the territories and the Yukon but we have also been told that they are working hard to get the necessary legislative or Ministerial authority in place. This is good news for the graduates who have been waiting to accept job offers in the NWT and Yukon.

I want to thank FMRAC and their members for their collaboration. They have worked to find an immediate solution to ensure that the inability to sit an exam due to COVID is not an impediment to those transitioning into practice. Provisional licenses may seem like an easy thing to establish, but I can assure you that there is a complexity to this that requires good will, dedication, and a commitment to our graduates and our future patients on the part of the provincial and territorial regulatory authorities.

We have heard from a number of residents whose circumstances are not directly covered by the decisions that I have just mentioned. To those residents, I want to let you know that we are continuing to advocate to find solutions that will meet your specific circumstances.

College of Family Physicians of Canada

We have been in regular contact with the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) regarding their recent exams, advocating on behalf of our members who experienced difficulties. I am pleased to report that the CFPC Executive Director and CEO, Dr. Francine Lemire, issued an open letter on October 22nd outlining what happened and offering her sincere apology for what has occurred. Her letter was empathetic and explained that the CFPC has contacted each affected candidate. We are confident that the CFPC is dedicated to supporting all of their exam candidates and that they will take measures to assist and provide direct support to the individuals who were affected.

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada

We have been in regular contact with the Royal College regarding the spring exam schedule. We advocated that they release this schedule as early as possible, which they have done, with the proviso that some exam dates may need to shift as details are finalized. The Royal College has informed us that they are working hard to ensure that their plans for the exams are not derailed by COVID. As part of this strategy, they are spreading out the dates of the exams over a longer period to ensure social distancing. We have asked them to issue a final exam date schedule by the end of next week and make it available on their website. We will post links to the exam schedule on the RDoC website as soon as we know it is available.

We have also asked the Royal College to let candidates know the fall 2021 exam timing as soon as possible. The Royal College has told us that for all of their exams, they will be posting information detailing which programs are waiving applied exam components for 2021, so make sure to check the Royal College website once the final exam schedule has been posted. The Royal College has also confirmed that all applied/oral exams in 2021 will be delivered virtually with the candidate and the examiner interacting on a virtual platform.

PPE and Re-deployment

As the second wave takes hold, RDoC is working collaboratively with our provincial counterparts to ensure that residents have appropriate access to PPE. We are also working collaboratively to develop and share re-deployment policies that ensure that needs of patients are met while at the same time ensuring that your educational needs are met.


I want to conclude this message by making a few general comments about our high stakes exams. We have heard from many of our current and former members about the significant impact that cancelling exams has on all of our lives. The RDoC Board and our provincial counterparts know and understand how this affects you, because we are you – we are residents volunteering our time and energy to make the life of residents better and all of us know first-hand the impact of any exam on our lives. I can guarantee you that RDoC will continue to advocate, with all of our energy, to ensure that the examining organizations understand our expectation that they have well thought out contingency plans in place.

RDoC is determined to ensure that any examination that residents are required to sit serve a purpose. The pandemic has forced almost every industry in our country to re-think how they conduct their business, and exams should not be exempt from this. Necessity, safety, efficiency and efficacy are four of the most important factors that companies and organizations are utilizing to drive their thinking as they evaluate and reimagine their operations, and RDoC is intent on promoting this forward way of thinking in all aspects of our training, including our exams. We are able to advocate on your behalf because RDoC has representation on every national organization that affects our lives as residents, but we also have a dedicated staff who have been working tirelessly on all of our behalf, advocating on a daily basis with their counterparts at these national organizations, to make sure that your interests and needs are represented and addressed. Be assured that we will continue to do everything we can to represent and advocate for you.

Warm regards,

Dr. Esther Kim

RDoC President