Following the advent of COVID-19 and its widespread and ongoing impacts, the Medical Council of Canada (MCC) sought to be able to move candidates for the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination (MCCQE) Part I along the route to licensure with implementation of a timely and safe delivery model.
The introduction of the remote proctoring exam option using Prometric’s ProProctor was done with the best of intentions and in support of candidates. We wanted to offer them an opportunity to complete the MCCQE Part I in either a test centre or in a remotely-proctored session before starting residency on July 1, following the cancellation of the April-May administration of the MCCQE Part I. Without this novel modality, due to pandemic restrictions for access to testing centres, candidates would not have been able to take this examination until after starting residency. This would have been disruptive to their ongoing training activities.
We are committed to improving the remote proctoring candidate experience which, in too many instances to date, has been unacceptable. To do so, we are meeting twice daily with Prometric senior executives to develop solutions to all reported issues, in particular those related to test accommodations, hardware compatibility, proctor responsiveness and connectivity before and during the exam. We are monitoring and evaluating the progress on a daily basis.
From a communications perspective, Prometric has introduced a confirmation email that scheduled candidates receive two to three days before their exam. This email includes a video that walks candidates through the expected experience and provides information on troubleshooting (technical support chat function, proctor assistance and a dedicated contact number) during the exam.
The MCC has sent communications to candidates reminding them of their ability to reschedule their exam up to 48 hours before their appointment at no charge and encouraging them to reschedule to a test centre if that is a more suitable choice, as we work with Prometric to resolve the issues. We also continue to work successfully with Prometric to add availability in test centres as public health guidelines are relaxed.
In regards to validity of the exam, when the MCC refers to the “validity of any such examination”, two key considerations or sources of evidence are:
For the recent MCCQE Part I test administrations under remote proctoring, it’s important to reiterate that despite the technical bumps, we are strictly adhering to the best practice-based processes, out of fairness to candidates (past, present and future) and especially to continue to ensure that we adhere to our vision and mission statements. While some candidates are completing, at their request, an examination under a different modality (remote proctoring), the driver (interface) under which they are completing the exam is identical to what test centre candidates are seeing as well as what was in use last year (pre-COVID-19).
Finally, the processes used to support fair and equitable decisions for all candidates is also identical to the one that we’ve applied for many years.
The vision of the MCC is as follows: Striving to achieve the highest level of medical care in Canada through excellence in assessment of physicians. A key part of our mission to sustain this vision is to develop, validate and implement tools and strategies to assess physicians’ competences. The MCCQE I Part I and Part II are the direct embodiment of this mission statement and contribute significantly to the licensing of all physicians by Medical Regulatory Authorities in all 10 provinces and three territories.
The primary aim of a medical licensing exam program is to assess whether a candidate has demonstrated the core competencies required by the profession at different points in their training, irrespective of specialty.
The MCC recognizes that the current pandemic and the postponement of our exams due to COVID-19 in the spring presented an opportunity to innovate, and that is what we have endeavoured to do. We continue to work with Prometric to address the issues as they arise and to add availability in test centres as public health guidelines are relaxed.