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Specialty Committee

Terms of Reference


Specialty committees are established for every specialty and subspecialty recognized by the Royal College. The role of a specialty committee is to advise the Royal College on specialty specific content issues (e.g., standards, credentials, assessment and accreditation).


  • advise the Committee on Specialties and report on matters including review of specialty/subspecialty status, and review of applications for recognition of a new discipline;
  • advise the Accreditation Committee on matters including the basic accreditation requirements, applications for accreditation of new programs, assessment of pre-survey questionnaires and recommendation of accreditation status;
  • advise the Credentials Committee on matters including the requirements for certification for the specialty/subspecialty, and assessment of individual credentials;
  • advise the Assessment Committee on matters including assessment strategies, the format of the examination and examination board appointments;
  • advise other committees of the Royal College such as the Executive Committee, Regional Advisory Committees and the Biomedical Ethics Committee on matters relevant to the discipline;
  • revise specialty specific documents as needed;
  • collaborate on the Competence by Design (CBD) educational design and assessment strategy for the specialty/subspecialty (if applicable);
  • liaise with the national specialty society on educational issues and collaborate to ensure the sustained health of the discipline; and
  • if appropriate, oversee an area of focused competence (AFC). This includes oversight of the discipline specific document development and revision process; and providing consultation on decisions brought forward by the AFC working group/subcommittee on matters relating to membership, review of discipline status, accreditation, and credentialing.

Generally, committee members should possess the following key competencies:

  • Royal College Fellow in good standing
  • Certification and clinical and educational expertise relevant to the specific specialty/subspecialty.

The usual term of office is one two-year term, renewable twice (maximum of six years).

Responsibility and Authority:

Specialty committees are monitored by the Committee on Specialties and ultimately report to the Committee on Specialty Education in matters related to the specialty or subspecialty.


The specialty committee consists of voting and non-voting members.

Voting members consist of up to nine members:

  • the chair;
  • chair-elect or vice-chair(s);
  • past-chair (for disciplines that are engaged in CBD at the time of chair turnover)
  • one member selected to represent each of the five geographical regions in Canada as specified in the bylaw (Bylaw No. 20, Article 11.1.2); and
  • a community-based representative, if applicable.

In specialties where there is a related stream (e.g., pediatric), the vice-chair should represent the opposite stream from the chair (i.e. pediatric vice-chair if the chair is part of the adult stream). If this is not possible, a second vice-chair will be appointed to represent the related stream.

Voting members may play an additional role to that of regional representative (e.g., pediatric representative, observer from the national specialty society, etc.). The practice of including one member in full-time community practice is strongly encouraged.

Residency program directors have a direct responsibility to their institution, program and trainees which may create a real, potential or perceived conflict with the performance of the responsibilities of a voting member on the specialty committee. Therefore, to avoid perceived or potential conflicts of interest, program directors cannot be voting members.

It is recognized however, that the size of some specialties/subspecialties may limit the selection of individuals who may be involved in specialty/subspecialty committee activities. Program directors who are granted an exception to also serve as voting members must declare any perceived or potential conflict of interest, and the specialty/subspecialty committee must have a process to manage those conflicts.

It is expected that all voting members be residents of Canada and well versed in the Canadian context of medical education.

Non-voting members consist of:

  • the chairs of the English and French examination boards for the specialty/subspecialty;
  • the chair of a parent specialty (for subspecialties), subspecialty (for parent specialties) or other related disciplines;
  • residency program directors;
  • observers representing a national specialty society, a professor’s group, or any outside organization; and
  • other representatives (as required).

If the specialty committee also encompasses an AFC, the AFC working group/AFC Committee/AFC Subcommittee chair or representative will participate on the specialty committee as a non-voting member. For information on the role of the AFC working group, committee or subcommittee chair, please refer to the Working Group Terms of Reference. For information on the role of the AFC committee or AFC subcommittee chair, please refer to the Areas of Focused Competence (AFC) Committee Terms of Reference or Areas of Focused Competence (AFC) Subcommittee Terms of Reference.

Voting Guidelines:

Half of the committee’s voting members, including the chair, shall constitute a quorum.


Each specialty committee must meet at least once per year.

Committee Work Product

All work product of the committee will be owned by the Royal College. “Work product” in this context means intellectual property produced or contributed to by the committee or any committee member(s) in the course of performing the committee’s mandate for the Royal College. Specific projects may be exempted from this requirement by written agreement between the project contributors and the Royal College.

Code of Conduct and Confidentiality

Appointment to a Royal College committee carries significant responsibilities, and all committee members are expected to adhere to the Volunteer Code of Conduct. In addition, committee members are required to maintain absolute discretion and not divulge, re-produce, or release any confidential information except when authorized by the Royal College. Meeting materials are only to be used for the purpose of committee business. Committee members are permitted to download a copy of committee materials for use solely for the purposes of the Committee. All downloaded materials must be deleted once used for the intended purpose.