Omicron forces College of GPs to change clinical exams

3 February 2022

The Board of The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners has announced that the College will not proceed with its registrars’ first year clinical exams that were planned to commence at the end of February 2022. Instead, this cohort of registrars will be assessed for an aegrotat grade.

With the anticipated rise in Omicron expected to coincide with the February exam timing, GPs will be a key force in keeping New Zealanders safe.  New Zealand has a critical GP workforce shortage, and it is essential that all College members – both the highly experienced senior doctors who are relied upon for their examination expertise, and the pool of very talented registrars, remain in their communities to serve their patients.

President of the College, Dr Samantha Murton said, “Giving our registrars an aegrotat assessment ensures we still test their clinical skill and ability, but do it in a way that keeps them safe and leaves them in their communities where they are needed most during this time.”

The College surveyed both effected registrars and their examiners and received a clear and unified response from both groups as to their preferences.

The College has had initial discussion with the Medical Council on the intended change to an aegrotat assessment for this cohort, and will work closely with them to provide assurance that it meets the rigors of clinical safety and competence. 

Lynne Hayman, Chief Executive of the College said, “The health and safety of our registrars is of paramount concern to the College but as a learning organisation, so is their clinical competence. 

“Assessing them this way will ensure they still meet the high standard of clinical skill that the General Practice Education Programme (GPEP) requires while also letting them ‘draw a line’ under their first year of general practice study.”