The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) will immediately refund and fully support all candidates who were due to sit Fellowship exams that had to be cancelled on Friday and Saturday.
Following an extraordinary meeting of the board, the RACGP has announced full refunds will be given to all candidates for both the Key Feature Problem exam and the Applied Knowledge Test. These refunds began processing yesterday.
RACGP Acting President Associate Professor Ayman Shenouda said that the RACGP was acting swiftly to help those affected by the cancellation.
“We worked through the weekend to devise a new plan for all affected candidates,” Associate Professor Shenouda said.
“I can now announce that all candidates will receive a full refund. We are also working to quickly reschedule the exams and anticipate we will be able to deliver a re-run of the exams this year. We will confirm the specific dates and exam format for candidates within the next two weeks.
“There will be no cost for impacted candidates to sit one KFP exam and one AKT within the next 18 months. Further, candidates who resit these exams and fail will not have their fail count towards their exam cap.
“Our top priority is ensuring all candidates can continue working toward their Fellowship. We will work directly with candidates to remediate where there are specific impacts resulting from the cancellation of the exams.
“Given some people had started the KFP when the failure occurred, the exam used has been compromised. A new exam, with new questions, is ready to go and will be used in the re-run.”
The Acting RACGP President said that the RACGP deeply regrets having to cancel the exams.
“The proctored exam provider we contracted experienced a server outage overseas and this meant they could not deliver the video conferencing required for the exams to go ahead,” he said.
“The RACGP is the representative body responsible for administering these exams and the buck stops with me. I take full responsibility for what happened and once again apologise to all candidates and their families for what must have been an incredibly stressful experience.
“This year has been a very trying time and I can only imagine how upsetting and frustrating this would have been for all concerned.
“As someone who had undergone the Fellowship exams myself, I am fully aware that they are the culmination of months of hard work, determination and sacrifice and we know what unfolded was devastating for candidates and their families who have supported them these past months and years.
“Cancelling the exams was an incredibly difficult decision; however, it was the right decision in the circumstances we found ourselves in, and the best option to provide fairness to all candidates.
“A preliminary analysis provided to the RACGP indicates that the video conference platform used by the exam provider failed to scale for the number of candidates. The exam provider will be providing a further update to the RACGP this week.
“We are committed to an external, independent investigation of the incident. Input from the RACGP National Faculty of GPs in Training will be sought to inform the terms of reference for this investigation.
“Once again I apologise unreservedly for the significant disruption this has caused candidates and their families.
“I note the forthcoming remote clinical exam is hosted on a completely different platform. We are also carefully reviewing our overall risk-mitigation strategies for this exam and will write to all enrolled candidates with in the coming days.”
The RACGP offers and endorses a range of services for doctors’ mental health, including:
· the GP Support Program – offers free, confidential, 24/7 access to crisis counselling, and scheduled access to face-to-face or telephone counselling
· Drs4Drs – a mental health service especially for doctors including a 24/7 helpline staffed by senior GPs and experienced counsellors trained in doctors’ health
· the Black Dog Institute’s The Essential Network for Health Professionals.