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COVID-19: Training program update

01 April 2020
 
 
 

The Royal Australian New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) recognises the urgent health crisis its impacts within the Australian and New Zealand communities and training environments.

The RANZCP understands that trainees are concerned that their progress through training, assessments and exams, teaching and clinical experience may be adversely affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic and wishes to reassure you, that every attempt will be made to ensure that trainees will not be disadvantaged due to decisions made and that all personal circumstances will be considered.

Impact on Fellowship Training and Certificates of Advanced Training 

The Committee for Training (CFT), in consultation with the Education Committee and the RANZCP Board, have considered and supported the following guiding principles for trainees and, where relevant, Fellows undertaking Certificates of Advanced Training during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • Your Director of Training (DOT) will be absolutely essential to you during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please make sure that you liaise with them regularly to ensure the highest level of support can be provided during this time.
     
  • The RANZCP asks all trainees and supervisors to ensure that the Fellowship regulations are achieved whenever possible to provide the highest standards for the communities we serve.
     
  • The Committee for Training (CFT) wishes to demonstrate flexibility for up to three months in a six month rotation if this is required due to disruption caused by the COVID pandemic with a variation of the Fellowship regulations.

    For example, a full-time trainee who completes a minimum of three months of their Stage 2 Child and Adolescent rotation but experiences an interruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic (redeployment, illness, quarantine etc.) will have the full six months of training time accredited.

    Interruptions to training must be discussed with the DOT or their delegate. Any further disruption beyond three months, during the COVID pandemic, must be considered by the CFT.
     
  • Flexibility will be exercised with the transition from Stage 2 to Stage 3. For example, if a trainee has not achieved a Stage 2 requirement (such as a psychotherapy EPA) during the pandemic they may be eligible to progress to Stage 3. This will be at the discretion of the DOT.
     
  • The CFT notes that alternative arrangements may be required to be put in place for Formal Education Courses (FECs) where possible. The CFT appreciates that this may not always be viable in the current climate. Trainees are required to follow the advice of their BTC regarding the FEC requirement. 
     
  • The CFT notes that Psychotherapy Written Case patients may be reluctant to attend for ongoing care or services may no longer provide the facilities. Provision of psychotherapy can be undertaken by videoconference or teleconference (where no other option is available) with the support of the psychotherapy supervisor, which may also be via videoconference, amid sound clinical governance is acceptable. Pausing the case is also acceptable however, patient preference in this matter is paramount. Please involve the DOT or their delegate in any psychotherapy videoconferencing decisions.
     
  • Trainees are encouraged not to commence a Psychodynamic Psychotherapy case during the COVID-19 pandemic.
     
  • The CFT suspends the Fellowship trajectory and associated landmarks for 2020 (December 2019 – December 2020 for New Zealand trainees and February 2020 – February 2021 for Australian trainees).
     
  • The CFT wishes to highlight to all trainees that there must always be clear lines of responsibility to a consultant at all times with support from an RANZCP supervisor. The value of supervision in these difficult times cannot be underemphasized in terms of protecting the welfare of trainees and the safety of patients.
     
  • The CFT recognises that the submission of ITAs, EPAs, OCAs may be delayed during this period and will exercise flexibility regarding the submission of training forms.
     
  • The CFT acknowledges that the cancellation of the April OSCE is stressful for trainees and amid stretched current resources the CFT will continue to encourage all Fellows and Supervisors to support trainees. 
     
  • The CFT will grant an additional year of accreditation to those supervisors who are required to undergo supervisor re-accreditation during 2020. Supervisors are encouraged to utilise the available resources on Learnit relating to the training program and supervision.
     
  • In the absence of usual new supervisor workshops, the CFT will require, as a minimum, the completion of the following InTrain modules and discussion regarding supervision requirements and responsibilities with a Branch Training Committee (BTC) member or a site coordinator of training. 

        o Introduction to InTrain
        o Training Program - In-Training Assessments
        o Training Program - Observed Clinical Activity
        o Giving feedback to trainees
     
  • The RANZCP Training Administration Fee payment date will be extended to 30 April 2020. Trainees are reminded that they are able to contact training@ranzcp.org to request a payment plan.

It is noted that the above points will require changes to processes and procedures and the BTCs, DOTs and RANZCP staff will continue to work towards the operationalisation of these principles. The CFT will continue to appraise our challenges and support trainees during this difficult period.

Impact on Examinations and Assessments

Due to the escalating pandemic of the COVID-19 and the implications of re-deployment of the RANZCP Trainees and Fellows, the restrictions placed by the Health Authorities and Australian Government on large gatherings for non-essential activities for health care workforce and social distancing requirements have implications on the RANZCP’s ability to schedule and provide examinations and with the trainee’s capacity to prepare for examinations.

OSCE

As a result, the College is exploring a range of options regarding future OSCE exam and its formats for the scheduling. Due to the uncertainty of the pandemic, the Committee for Examinations is exploring an appropriately timely approach to consider a wide range of options for the OSCE. This includes but not limited to:

  • Holding in venues other than health environments
  • Exploring different format to OSCE delivery
  • Holding examinations across two different locations
  • Cancelling September OSCE subject to government advice on COVID-19

The CFE will make these determinations in close consultation with the Education Committee and the Trainee Representative Committee, and provide a timely communication to the Trainees and SIMGE Candidates 3 months ahead of the examinations.

MCQ and Essay-Style Examinations

In addition, the CFE is currently reviewing feasibility of holding MCQ exams in July and Essay exams in August. While we are monitoring the advice of the Health Authorities and Government restrictions closely, trainee welfare is of paramount importance to the College as their ability to prepare for the examinations and adequately perform at this unprecedented and challenging times. The CFE is considering all aspects of potential cancellation of these examinations and will present its recommendations to the Education Committee and then the Board in 2-3 weeks’ time. The College will be developing a communications strategy to keep trainees informed around the currently planned examinations.

Paper-based submissions

Due to the transition of RANZCP staff to work from home arrangements, all postal items relating to Scholarly Project and Psychotherapy Written Case will not be processed. We apologise for this short notice and any inconvenience caused.

The RANZCP will start accepting submissions from Monday, 06/04/2020 by email for both the Scholarly Project and Psychotherapy Written Case. This short break in accepting submissions is required for system updates. The transition to email is expected to make the submission process easier for trainees. CD copies of submissions will no longer be required.

If you presently have material in the post that has not been received and receipt confirmed by the RANZCP, please resubmit via email in the format specified on the RANZCP website. Details on the required format of the submissions will be available on the RANZCP website.

Should you have any queries or feedback please feel free to contact training@ranzcp.org or for any questions regarding the Scholarly Project or Psychotherapy Written Case submission, please contact mary.wescombe@ranzcp.org

Member Wellbeing

If you are experiencing any difficulties you require support with, please contact the RANZCP via the confidential Member Welfare Support Line on 1800 941 002 or support@ranzcp.org. For additional support services please refer to Support for trainees and SIMGs page on the RANZCP Website.