Update regarding MCCQE Part II – October 24-25 session
October 21, 2020
The Medical Council of Canada (MCC) qualifying examinations were created to ensure that physicians across Canada meet common standards in order to provide safe and effective patient care. When the many current and emerging issues facing the physicians of today and tomorrow are considered, together with the increasing complexity of medical knowledge, we assert that the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination (MCCQE) Part II is more relevant than ever. It plays a significant role in making sure that physicians across Canada meet critical competencies that prepare them to succeed in professional practice. Our medical community—and all in Canada—deserve it.
The provincial and territorial Medical Regulatory Authorities (MRAs) consider our examinations as one of the main national standards to issue a licence and, in many provinces, they are part of the legislative requirement defining licensure. MRAs require the 2020 graduating cohort of residents to pass the certification exam from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) or College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), as well as the MCCQE Part II before they are eligible for a full, unrestricted license to practise medicine in Canada.
For weeks now, the MCC has reviewed candidates’ and others’ concerns about the MCCQE Part II. They have ranged from considered arguments about public safety and concerns of administering exams during COVID-19 to opportunistic and poorly informed calls to abolish this standardized examination for physicians with claims including irrelevancy.
The MCC has regularly updated the qualifying exams since they were first developed in the 1990s. The latest update to the MCCQE Part II was launched in 2018, after the MCC completed an extensive, multi-year practice analysis led by 12 representative stakeholders, who reviewed our assessment processes in consultation with MRAs, medical schools, national resident and student groups.
The updated MCCQE Part II, developed by expert educators and assessors from our faculties of medicine, assesses the knowledge, skills and behaviours that all physicians practising in Canada should be able to demonstrate, regardless of specialty. It encompasses two broad categories: dimensions of care across the medical continuum and physician activities, including assessment and diagnosis, management, communication and professional behaviours.
These competencies aren’t just “nice-to-haves” — they are critical competencies in Canada’s health-care environment. Hundreds of candidates taking the exam do not meet the standard competencies.
The overall pass rate over the recent and past administrations, as reported in the exam Technical Reports is as follows:
- Total first–time Canadian medical school candidates: 1495 candidates, overall pass rate of 89% — 165 did not pass
- Total postgraduate candidates in Canadian training programs: 1799 candidates, overall pass rate of 86% — 251 did not pass
- Total first–time Canadian medical school candidates: 1447 candidates, overall pass rate of 88% — 165 did not pass
- Total postgraduate candidates in Canadian training programs: 1850 candidates, overall pass rate of 84% — 296 did not pass
- Total first–time Canadian medical school candidates: 1371 candidates, overall pass rate of 91% — 123 did not pass
- Total postgraduate candidates in Canadian training programs: 1807 candidates, overall pass rate of 88% — 216 did not pass
MCC Council provides direction
COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges for health–care workers across the country. It has also impacted the planned delivery of our exams as well as our contingency plans. We would like to reaffirm that the MCC takes the safety of all involved in our exams very seriously. On October 19, the MCC Council unanimously supported proceeding with safe administration of our exams at as many of the planned sites as we are able to. We have also heard from candidates who, with the precautions we have implemented, wish to pursue the exam and their route to licensure.
Our teams have made the changes necessary to reduce the possible risks during the delivery of the MCCQE Part II with physical distancing and other personal protective measures in place at each examination centre, as per the guidelines set by local public health authorities.
We understand the impact of cancellation decisions on candidates, especially those previously impacted by the postponed May 2020 exam dates and we will keep them updated as decisions on future exam sessions are made. There are also many candidates who are not residents in training and have already completed their training outside of Canada who must complete the MCCQE Part II. As soon as details are confirmed, the MCC will work directly with candidates and make every possible effort to transfer their exam application to a future session. We are also considering the addition of dates in the first part of 2021 to address the backlog created by cancellations.
The MCC Council also supported the direction to actively pursue virtual delivery of the Objective Structured Clinical Examinations. The MCC teams will actively pursue a course that we are hoping will allow us to offer candidates a virtual option for the MCCQE Part II in the next 12 months. Please continue to consult our website for future updates.
In the meantime, we wish all candidates challenging the MCCQE Part II this weekend, best of luck.