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NewsFrom Canberra to Ottawa: the AMC and the MCC forge stronger ties

From Canberra to Ottawa: the AMC and the MCC forge stronger ties

November 23, 2023

On September 21 and 22, 2023, the Medical Council of Canada (MCC) enthusiastically welcomed a delegation from the Australian Medical Council (AMC) to our office in Ottawa. This visit was an opportunity for the two organizations to share knowledge on mutual interests and to increase understanding of the assessment environments in Australia and Canada. Given the disruption of international collaboration due to the pandemic, the in-person meeting with our Australian counterparts was especially welcomed. Key discussions revolved around assessments and critical topics such as pathways to licensure for international medical graduates (IMGs), Indigenous relations, culturally safe practice, and data management.


A focus on Indigenous health and cultural safety 

Before delving into the agenda, both AMC and MCC teams were honoured to hear wise words from Elder Albert Dumont, and the musical talent of singer and drummer Claire Brascoupé, both from the Anishinaabe Algonquin Nation.

Among the many topics covered over the two days, the MCC was particularly interested to learn about the AMC’s commitment to ensuring culturally safe practice and improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and Māori Peoples. In addition to the delegation’s visit, the following week, AMC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Philip Pigou delivered an inspirational speech at the MCC Annual Meeting, emphasizing the concept of public value within the regulatory context. Mr. Pigou offered valuable insights into cultural safety and workforce considerations, drawing from the Australian experience. His address invited the audience to reflect more broadly on the challenges facing medical education, as well as regulatory and assessment communities. Mr. Pigou also engaged in productive conversations with other leaders about the work the MCC can achieve on transforming health care.


Common considerations across the Australian and Canadian systems

Both the AMC and MCC share a common objective of upholding excellence in health care. They ensure that practising physicians in Australia and in Canada respectively have the skills, knowledge, as well as the professional and ethical behaviours to meet the highest standard of patient care. While their goals align, there are notable differences between the roles of the two organizations. The AMC is responsible for accrediting medical programs across the medical education continuum as well as assessing IMGs, whereas the MCC focuses on assessing the core competencies of all physicians in Canada —both Canadian and international medical graduates— prior to specialty training and certification.

The discussions in Ottawa focused on key areas for future collaboration on assessment practices. The teams contemplated the development of new approaches in assessment that align with the evolving health care environment in both countries, such as incorporating artificial intelligence and machine learning into evaluations. As Australia and Canada face similar challenges in terms of health human resources, the groups also discussed strategies for efficient and ethical recruitment policies for IMGs, as well as approaches to expedite their integration into the system while ensuring safe and high-quality care.

Cultural safety in medical education and assessment was another pivotal topic and presented an opportunity for the teams to exchange on the work being done in their respective medical landscape for advancing equity, diversity and inclusion.

As virtualization to support exam delivery is being increasingly used, another significant theme on the agenda was the administration of remotely proctored examinations. The MCC team, taking from the experience of delivering two examinations by remote proctoring as an alternative to test centres, shared their insights on exam security and spoke to improving the candidate experience in remote proctored examinations while maintaining validity and integrity. The MCC’s high-quality preparatory products that are valuable exam preparation tools for candidates also spurred interest from the AMC.


Engaging with all publics to help transform health

As a guest speaker at the MCC Annual Meeting, AMC CEO Philip Pigou drew on his expertise from an 18-year regulatory career to offer a compelling presentation on “Adding value to the public.” Reflecting on Elizabeth Davis’ inspirational comment “You can’t speak for me if I haven’t had a say,” Mr. Pigou talked about the need to build an all-inclusive and dynamic approach that embraces public value. He highlighted the AMC’s commitment to cultural safety and underscored its importance in improving health outcomes of Indigenous Peoples. He also stressed the necessity of including Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Māori Peoples in assessment and accreditation processes, emphasizing that such change requires leadership “with a clear vision, purpose and values.”

Decorative quotation marks

“Our strategy must be to engage with all our publics, all our communities –
to help transform health outcomes in collectively desired directions.”

— Philip Pigou, CEO of the Australian Medical Council

Highlighting the continued efforts towards promoting self-determination and partnership with Indigenous communities, he explained how the AMC brought in Indigenous staff and board members to lead and achieve change, as part of its strategy to support Indigenous health in all aspects of its work. Mr. Pigou also noted that, while those considerations apply to the context of accreditation of medical education in Australia, the principles are similar for any work involving and affecting Indigenous Peoples.

To conclude his address, Mr. Pigou shared valuable considerations on workforce and the ethical aspect of IMGs recruitment —a common challenge for Australia and Canada— and outlined the initiative that the AMC undertook to increase understanding of the IMG journey, starting with a review of how IMGs are assessed in order to implement changes.

In keeping the momentum of this collaborative work, the AMC and MCC teams will have an opportunity to expand on the areas of collaboration they touched upon during the meeting and extend the conversation to the broader international community of researchers and practitioners. Despite the geographical distance, both organizations are steadfast in nurturing their relationship through future virtual interactions, with the aim of creating a more interconnected and resilient medical education landscape.