Update on the coronavirus outbreak and impact to the Royal College

(Updated March 27, 2:00 ET)

The Royal College’s Crisis Management Team (CMT) is carefully monitoring the coronavirus outbreak to determine if and when we may need to take action to proactively protect the health of our staff, volunteers, residents, Fellows and partners. The CMT is convening twice daily to monitor and assess the risks and developments of the outbreak, and provide regular updates to the Royal College.

We sympathize with the stress our residents and Fellows are under during these unprecedented times, and our teams are here to serve you. The health of Canadians, our trainees and our Fellows remains our top priority. On behalf of the Royal College, thank you for all you are contributing as we work through this pandemic crisis.

Postponement of Royal College exams

With the World Health Organization’s declaration of a COVID-19 pandemic and the rapidly evolving situation in Canada, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada has had to postpone all spring exams.

Given recent discussion with health ministries, universities, faculty and resident groups, the Royal College will be postponing the delivery of its written exams to September 2020 at the earliest, with a goal to follow with the postponed spring oral/OSCEs in the same fall period (September – November 2020). We all hope that at that time the Canadian pandemic will be resolving.

If this potential timeline conflicts with providing COVID-19 clinical care, we will further evaluate dates, consult with key stakeholders and be ready to respond.

We are committed to giving at least six weeks’ notice to all residents prior to exams.

Again, our top priority is the wellness of residents and the Canadians they are caring for.

Please access our Royal College Exam FAQ for more information.

Update on provisional licensing for the 2020 graduating cohorts

We have communicated with the Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada (FMRAC) who advise us that licensure will be available for those who have not yet written their spring 2020 Royal College examinations due to the COVID-19 situation.

Graduating residents will be eligible for a provisional / temporary / restricted license in a Canadian province provided that

  1. they have confirmation that they completed their postgraduate training program in Canada;
  2. they have received notice of eligibility to take the certification exam (from the College of Family Physicians of Canada or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada); and
  3. they understand that they must take the certification exam at the earliest opportunity.

Supervision under provisional licensing

We have been assured by FMRAC that supervision under restricted licensure is different than residency. Please contact the appropriate medical regulatory authority for more details.

The requirement for certification

At this time, the certification examination has been deemed a necessary final step to certify candidates have all the skills and knowledge needed to be an effective specialist. Assessment within residency programs plays a significant role, but has never been the sole determinant for certification.

The Royal College has a duty to the public to assess and certify the competence of specialist physicians and surgeons. The provincial medical regulatory authorities consider Royal College certification as the highest standard to issue a license for specialty practice and, in many provinces, it’s part of a legislative requirement.

On March 26, the Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities and its members (the thirteen provincial and territorial medical regulatory authorities) announced that they require the 2020 graduating cohort to pass the pan-Canadian certification exam before they are eligible for a full, unrestricted license to practise medicine in Canada.

As certification is for life, the Royal College needs to balance the need to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure on-going safety to Canadians.

Improving our communications with exam candidates

We have made changes to our email management system to improve our ability to distribute updates directly and quickly to all exam candidates. Beginning March 26, we are committed to providing a minimum once weekly email update. If there are major developments, they will be shared as they emerge, and we will review and adjust the frequency of the weekly updates as the situation evolves.

Please continue to send your suggestions on how we can serve you to ceo@royalcollege.ca.

Annual dues payment for 2020-21: deadline extended to August 31, 2020

We recognize that COVID-19 has impacted many of our members, either directly or indirectly. This includes personal and professional hardships, as well as financial stresses and strains. We will be extending the 2020-21 annual dues deadline from April 30 until August 31, 2020. Late payment fees will only take effect after September 30.

MOC Program requirements waived for 2020

In recognition of this unprecedented situation, and in alignment with our partners at the College of Family Physicians of Canada, the Royal College will be waiving all Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Program requirements for 2020:

  • One year will be added to everyone’s cycle (everyone will now be on a six-year cycle).
  • While no credits are required to be submitted this year, any credits submitted will still be counted towards participants’ current (now six-year) cycle. We are waiving the traditional 40-credit minimum requirement for 2020.

Link to the latest FAQ: Impact of COVID-19 on 2020-21 MOC and dues cycles

COVID-19 and impact on travel, meetings and business operations

The Royal College has suspended all business travel outside of Canada.

At this point in time, the decision has been made to not hold in-person meetings up until April 30, 2020. All meetings are either being held virtually or postponed until a later date. Decisions for meetings beyond this date will be made as the situation evolves. We are committed to keeping you informed throughout this pandemic.

We have asked staff to work remotely, whenever possible, to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19. All Royal College buildings remain open at this time and we maintain a minimal presence. This is effective as of March 16 until end-of-day Friday, April 3, although this could change. We will continue to closely monitor the situation.

COVID-19 resources for health professionals

To support our Fellows who are providing high quality patient care under these challenging circumstances, Royal College staff members have compiled evidence-based information and resources about COVID-19.

Looking to learn more about this virus?

For more information and updates on the coronavirus outbreak, the following resources are available:

If you have questions, please contact communications@royalcollege.ca.