COVID-19's impact on postgraduate accreditation

In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, CanRAC has met to discuss the impact on accreditation activities. In deciding if and how to proceed with accreditation-related work over the next few months, careful consideration was given to:

  • recognizing the impact on clinicians, residents, and staff, and on the healthcare and medical education systems in general;
  • considering the safety of all individuals along with the practicality of travel;
  • maintaining critical operations as much as possible with flexible and creative solutions, balanced against the many other demands on health care providers;
  • managing specific exceptions, both in the moment and with guidance at later points in the process, rather than shifting all activities downstream;
  • making the best decisions possible based on the information available; and
  • sharing information and revisiting decisions regularly as the situation changes.

The details below provide an overview of decisions made to date in regards to upcoming accreditation activities. The details provided have been shared with all postgraduate offices. University-specific details, as applicable, are also being communicated to postgraduate offices. Residency programs should defer to the information provided by their postgraduate offices.

Regular Accreditation Reviews

  • Timing of upcoming regular accreditation reviews remains the same; however, the situation is being monitored closely by CanRAC, in consultation with impacted stakeholders, particularly for the regular accreditation review scheduled for November 2020.
  • It is anticipated that activities associated with the conclusion of the recent regular accreditation reviews will continue (e.g., via virtual meetings to finalize decisions).
  • We recognize the tremendous demands on institutions, programs, and the volunteers who conduct the reviews; CanRAC will work with each group to allow as much flexibility as possible regarding deadlines, and to host critical meetings virtually as needed to keep the process moving.

External Reviews

  • For programs that had external reviews scheduled this spring, CanRAC is working with individual postgraduate offices to explore options
  • CanRAC is developing criteria to determine where a virtual model will be feasible. For any external reviews that are postponed, we will work on a case-by-case basis to determine new deadlines and/or adjust the timing of subsequent follow-ups, if needed.
  • Postgraduate offices with affected programs will be contacted.

Internal Reviews and Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI)

  • Institutions and programs are encouraged to continue CQI activities as much as possible, including mid-cycle internal reviews.
  • While many institutions have shared creative solutions (e.g., virtual/remote internal reviews), we acknowledge there are other priorities and that timelines may need to shift; it may not be possible to deploy the same focus and resources that would be expected under normal circumstances.
  • When institutions and programs impacted come up for their next accreditation reviews, surveyors and committees will be given additional guidance to ensure the exceptional circumstances of this period are taken into consideration appropriately.

Follow-up Deadlines

  • CanRAC recognizes that programs’ abilities to complete any assigned follow-up tasks (e.g. action plan outcomes reports) may be affected by the current situation.
  • CanRAC is committed to applying the greatest possible flexibility regarding deadlines while ensuring the rigour of the accreditation process is maintained.
  • At this time, we are assessing deadlines on a case-by-case basis and will collaborate with Postgraduate deans to determine what is most appropriate, but we are not proposing a blanket pause on all follow-up activities.

Annual Resident and Faculty Surveys

  • Earlier this year we informed postgraduate deans of plans for a nationwide launch of the new annual CanERA resident and faculty surveys; however, recognizing the exceptional nature of the current resident and faculty experience, as well as the additional burden on everyone involved to execute the surveys at this moment in time, the nationwide launch will be postponed until spring 2021.
  • CanRAC will explore options with any postgraduate offices who feel that the data would be useful and may wish to deploy at their institutions at this time.

Committee Meetings

  • It is anticipated that meetings of the residency accreditation committees will continue; however, meetings will be conducted virtually until it is safe and feasible to consider in-person meetings.
  • We will work with volunteers and key stakeholders to ensure the feasibility of doing the necessary work in preparation for accreditation committee meetings (i.e., to inform decisions); if any timelines are affected, we will be in contact with impacted institutions.