A message from AMACDT Chair to all RACGP registrars

13 Oct 2020

As a trainee who only recently sat my exams last year, I empathise with your situation and know how much we sacrifice as trainees for these high-stake barrier exams, arguably a fault in the medical training system itself. 

Whilst I can in no way make up for what has happened to you and your colleagues, I wanted to let you know that your AMA Council of Doctors in Training (AMACDT) stands behind you during this difficult time, and our thoughts are with you, your colleagues, and your extended networks including family and friends. 

As Chair of AMACDT, I have been in regular contact with the Chair of the RACGP Trainee Committee and Trainee representative on the RACGP Board, and have spoken to the Chair of the Council of Presidents of Medical Colleges (CPMC), the President of General Practice Registrars Australia (GPRA) and also the Australian Medical Council (AMC) - all of whom understand the gravity of the situation and will be investigating this issue further.  

We are pleased to see that the RACGP has annnounced it will immediately refund and fully support all candidates who were due to sit Fellowship exams that had to be cancelled on Friday and Saturday. The AMA will be arranging a formal meeting with the RACGP (CEO, Acting President and Head of Exams), the Regional Training Organisations Network (RTON) and also General Practice Supervisors Australia (GPSA) this week to advocate for trainee needs, wellbeing and support to be a priority, including transparent and effective communications around rescheduling the exams in a timely manner. We also advocated for a full refund of examination fees with no fee for the rescheduled exam and further waiving of any penalties if the rescheduled exam is subsequently failed (i.e. not counting towards total number of exam attempts).  

We will also discuss alternative assessment formats if examinations are unable to proceed and for the utmost flexibility to be applied for trainees with regards to the rescheduled exams, keeping in mind that progression through training is paramount to trainees. The AMACDT has been advocating for paid study leave and provisions for exam leave for all GP trainees prior to this event and we shall do this again at our meeting with the RACGP and other stakeholder meetings.  

I will also implore that that College investigate this issue thoroughly and provide a timely report to all trainees on the issues that occurred on the day to prevent this from happening again. Please let me know if there is anything else you think needs to be advocated for and again, appreciate all of you who have reached out and shared your experiences with us so far. 

Whilst the AMACDT cannot fix everything for you and your colleagues including the personal cost to your lives, I believe that we truly can help make this terrible situation at least more tolerable - one of the many reasons I have continued to be involved with the AMA. 

To all other trainees sitting examinations in the coming months, we are advocating for all Colleges to have robust and transparent contingency plans in place prior to progressing with exams and further ensuring trainees have clear and effective communications around any changes to examinations and training. 

As always, your feedback is welcome to cdt.chair@ama.com.au. 


Dr Hash Abdeen 

Chair, AMA Council of Doctors in Training