Test-centre based RCPI membership exams were postponed last year for a time due to COVID-19 restrictions, and an alternative way to sit a secure, invigilated exam was urgently required to allow doctors to progress through their training and career.
By moving quickly to utilise remote invigilation technology, RCPI has enabled doctors to continue to sit their exams, in a secure manner, from home or a secure location. This has been of critical importance to enable trainee doctors continue with their career progress and professional development.
Remote invigilation, also known as remote proctoring, enables the exam hall environment to be recreated online. This means that a candidate can take their exam while being continuously monitored by a trained supervisor who uses video, audio and screenshare connections to ensure there is no cheating.
One of the benefits of sitting an exam by remote invigilation is that large numbers of doctors do not have to travel to a central test centre to sit an exam, which minimises the amount of time doctors need to take off work and the impact on the healthcare system.
RCPI tests over 4,000 candidates a year in both written, clinical and OSCE formats both nationally and internationally. It is the largest postgraduate training body in Ireland and is dedicated to improving the practise of general medicine and related medical specialities.
RCPI had initially commenced working with TestReach to transform the exam management system at the College in 2019, so that all question and exam paper development could take place securely online.
With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, RCPI switched very quickly to using remote invigilation exam delivery in order to facilitate a secure written examination for doctors. The written examinations were postponed in the Spring of last year but were fully up and running from June 2020.
TestReach worked in partnership with RCPI to increase remote invigilation exam capacity, ensuring that increasingly larger cohorts of exam candidates could sit their exam at the same time.
While online assessment is not new, what is unique about TestReach is that it has been built as a single application that enables both the management of question banks and exam papers, alongside the integral option of remote invigilation delivery.
TestReach, co-founded by Sheena Bailey and Louella Morton, developed the technology in Ireland, with support from Enterprise Ireland, and is headquartered at NexusUCD, the Industry Partnership Centre at University College Dublin.
“It has been an extremely challenging time for all examining and training bodies during the pandemic, but even more so for institutions like RCPI where the examinations form a vital component of training completion,” said Alan O’Mahony, Project Manager, RCPI.
He added, “In 2020 we were initially forced to postpone medical exams due to exam centre closures, but by working with TestReach we can now deliver exams securely and with integrity to students in any location. Feedback from the exam candidates and the Exam Boards of the College has been overwhelmingly positive.”
“This has been transformative for the College and our candidates. Our candidates no longer have to travel to exam centres, which eliminates travel expenses and the need to take significant annual leave. RCPI is also no longer restricted to countries with established test centres which provides us with the opportunity to increase our global reach.”
Sheena Bailey, CEO, TestReach, said, “We welcomed the opportunity to work in partnership with RCPI. We have had a busy year scaling our solution to enable larger cohorts of doctors to sit their examinations at the same time and this work is continuing to facilitate significantly larger numbers into the future.”
She added, “We have more than doubled our workforce in the past year to meet the demand for our technology, and we are continuing that growth with the planned addition of 30 more staff over the coming year. We are delighted that as a result of our partnership with the RCPI, many more doctors can continue to get qualified at such an essential time.”
She concluded, “The ability to run an exam anywhere, at any time, and have it professionally invigilated online by trained supervisors is a game changer for so many organisations. Until this technology was created there was no way to provide professional online invigilation within a single assessment application. It means that RCPI can move to a much more streamlined approach which is welcomed by both exam administrators and candidates.”
“In the post-pandemic world, RCPI and TestReach will continue to partner together in order to deliver remotely invigilated exams for medical qualifications, due to the success of the past year and overwhelming candidate satisfaction with this approach,” added O’Mahony.
The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland is a postgraduate medical training college dedicated to ensuring that doctors have the skills to provide patients with the best possible care. RCPI is committed to helping doctors enhance their skills, competencies and professionalism throughout their working lives. Offering training programmes, examinations, diplomas and educational courses, RCPI equips doctors with the skills and knowledge they need to care for patients and run safe and efficient healthcare systems.
RCPI incorporates six of the 13 postgraduate specialist training bodies in Ireland, including the Irish Committee on Higher Medical Training, the Faculty of Occupational Medicine, the Faculty of Pathology, the Faculty of Paediatrics, the Faculty of Public Health Medicine and the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
The RCPI has a global network of 10,000 Fellows, Members and Trainees who work across 29 medical specialities in 84 countries, and has four international academies in India, Oman, China and UAE.
TestReach is a cloud-based assessment application that enables end-to-end management of exam authoring, question management, exam delivery, marking, moderation and reporting. TestReach covers a wide range of question types and delivery options, including live remote invigilation for formal exams, where the candidate is monitored in real-time online by trained supervisors using video, audio and remote screen share technology.
With TestReach, examining bodies can create engaging assessments using the advanced test authoring tool and then roll them out securely, anywhere in the world, at any time, for any number of candidates, while maintaining the full integrity of the test.
NexusUCD, the Industry Partnership Centre, is located in Belfield Office Park, Clonskeagh, adjoining the main University College Dublin campus. NexusUCD offers high-quality modern office space, with short, medium or long-term occupancy arrangements, and associated services to established innovation-led companies, such as TestReach, who are collaborating, or wish to collaborate, with UCD’s world-class research base.