Devastated junior doctors will be handed more than $2million in refunds after they were forced to re-sit a major exam that determines the course of their medical careers.
Global testing company Pearson Vue will return 1200 trainee doctors their $1800 exam fees following the cancellation of the test last Monday due to a technical fault.
The bungle sparked mental health fears for the doctors, who were turned away from the make-or-break Royal Australasian College of Physicians’ (RACP) exam, which can take two years to study for, Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The RACP announced on Tuesday all doctors will receive a refund after it demanded an explanation from Pearson Vue.
Devastated junior doctors will be handed more than $2million in refunds after they were forced to re-sit the make-or-break Royal Australasian College of Physicians’ (RACP) exam (stock image)
Global testing company Pearson Vue will return 1200 trainee doctors their $1800 exam fees following the cancellation of the test last Monday due to a technical fault (stock image)
‘Pearson Vue’s preliminary view was that it related to human error in the quality assurance phase of the exam set up,’ the RACP said in a statement.
The unknown technical glitch – which occurred hours into the marathon six hour online test – meant many were locked out of the second part.
As a result, all participants were told they must re-sit the exam next month, causing overwhelming distress to the trainee doctors – many who work as registrars at busy hospitals, while juggling family and study.
Others planned holidays to unwind from months of studying, but the RACP said it’s still exploring whether travel and accommodation expenses will be reimbursed.
‘This is something we are still discussing with our insurers, but the intention is that no candidate who sat the cancelled exam will be financially disadvantaged,’ it said.
The RACP added that a ‘full and transparent’ investigation is underway, after registrars raised concerns about Pearson Vue’s ability to run the exam months before it was run.
The company has a troubled history in the US following a series of test-score delivery delays, printing errors, incorrect grading and security issues, The Washington Post reported in 2016.
Trainee doctors will return to sit the exam – which will no longer be conducted by Pearson Vue – on Friday.
The RACP announced on Tuesday all doctors will receive a refund after it demanded an explanation from Pearson Vue (Pictured is the RACP Sydney office)
Chair of the Australian Medical Association Council of Doctors in Training, John Zorbas, said these doctors had sacrificed a lot to sit the exam.
He said they are the doctors ‘we meet on the hospital wards every day’ and stressed everything possible must be done to ensure their wellbeing.
‘Our main concern is for the mental health of these doctors who put years and thousands of dollars and have sacrificed a lot for their friends and their family to sit this exam,’ Dr Zorbas said last week.
‘In order to study for this exam they’ve had to be an average husband, an average wife, an average mother, an average father or an average friend for months or years.
‘The fact that they now have to continue in this space is really distressing for them, they were really looking forward to reconnecting with their friends and family and get back to a normal life and that’s not possible at the moment.’
For many doctors, the high-stakes RACP exam was a barrier to becoming a medical specialist such as a cardiologist or gastroenterologist.
It is only run once a year and the failure rate is said to be as high as 50 per cent.
‘We call it the marathon of exams,’ Dr Zorbas said.
This year marked the first time it had been conducted online.
Pearson Vue has since issued a formal apology to the RACP, saying they ‘fell short’ of delivering ‘the best possible testing experience’.
‘Prior to any testing event launch, there are several stages of preparation and quality checks performed. We regret that one of those steps was not completed to our quality standards,’ Pearson Vue said in its apology.
‘As a result, we are implementing a number of checks and measures to prevent this from occurring again.’