Basic Physician Trainees - Important Update

26 Feb 2018

Since the decision to call off the 19 February Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) Computer Based Basic Training Written Divisional Exam, the AMA has been working hard to ensure that affected trainees are supported through what is a very difficult time. 

The AMA Council of Doctors in Training (AMACDT) has played a very strong role in the AMA’s response, with our immediate priorities being to ensure:

  • Trainees in distress understand what support options are available to them, including through local doctors’ health advisory services;
  • Trainees have every chance of participating in, and passing, the rescheduled exam; and
  • Clarification by the RACP of several key issues for trainees arising from the decision to reschedule the exam. 

In representing physician trainee members the AMA, at both state/territory and federal level, has lobbied health departments and health services to ensure that requests for roster changes and to access leave and other entitlements are handled appropriately. 

So far, health services have been very sympathetic to these representations. However, if members are having problems in any of these areas they should not hesitate to contact their local state/territory AMA for assistance. Their contact details can be found on the AMA website

While the College came in for significant criticism over its early communications with trainees, our direct approaches to the RACP have been positive.  Many of the concerns raised by the AMA on behalf of trainees have now been addressed.

Understandably, many trainees want to know what went wrong on the day. This has been referred by the RACP to a review that will be undertaken by corporate investigation and advisory firm, Ferrier Hodgson. The terms of reference for this review are located at this link.

The AMA will make a comprehensive submission to this review, using the extensive feedback we have been given by members.

In relation to specific trainee concerns, following our discussions with the RACP, the AMA can advise the following: 

Rescheduled Exam

This was held on 2 March 2018 and trainees did not have to pay another examination fee. 

A further resit date has been confirmed for 23 March for those trainees unable to take the exam on 2 March. 

For those trainees who, due to exceptional circumstances cannot make either date, we understand the College will deal with these on an individual basis to see what alternatives can be offered.

The AMA understands that the college will release the results of the 2 March exam on March 15, in time for trainees to register for the Clinical Exams. Any trainee that intends to sit the alternative exam on March 23, will be automatically registered for the Clinical Exam, to ensure they’re not disadvantaged.

Reimbursement of costs 

The RACP has confirmed that trainees will be refunded the full fees paid for this year’s exam.

The RACP has also given a clear commitment that no trainee will be financially disadvantaged as a result of having to undertake the rescheduled examination.  In this regard, the AMA has highlighted key costs that trainees have incurred include travel and accommodation, taken leave and cancelled holidays. 

A process to claim reimbursement of costs will be announced shortly by the RACP. 

Release of cancelled exam text 

These papers have been released and are available on the RACP website

Progression through training

The RACP has advised that if a trainee does not pass the resit or alternative resit exam, it will not be counted as one of three attempts at the examination that trainees are allowed. Similarly, the cancelled exam will not count as one of the three attempts.

In addition, trainees who sat this year’s cancelled computer-based Divisional Written Examination on 19 February will now not have an unsuccessful attempt at this year’s Divisional Clinical Examination counted as an attempt at the Clinical Examination.

Exam and Venue Amenities 

The rescheduled exam will be paper based and administered by a trusted provider that has previously hosted the exam. The RACP will also use long standing exam venues and is confident that the amenities should be of the same standard as previous years. 

The RACP is well aware of trainee concerns over toilet facilities, food/drink access as well as areas for breast feeding. 

There will also be senior RACP staff onsite at every venue as well as a counsellor from the RACP’s confidential support program. 

Exam methodology 

The RACP has advised the AMA that its rescheduled examinations are methodologically sound. According to the RACP, each examination attempt is graded against an acceptable standard and the papers are valid, reliable and contemporary. It has stressed that all exam questions have been calibrated to the expected standards of the examination and are not inferior to previous papers. 

Any further questions about the exam methodology should be directed to the RACP. 

Contacting the RACP 

The RACP has advised that trainees with issues or questions can make contact with the College through: 

Tel (AU) - 1300 69 7227

Tel (NZ) - 0508 69 7227

Tel (O/S) - +61292565444 

E-mail - 

The RACP is also regularly updating its website with information for trainees.

Trainee Welfare 

The welfare of affected trainees remains of paramount concern to the AMA. 

Trainees who are in distress should visit their GP to talk about their concerns. Alternatively, they can contact: