COVID-19 and Postgraduate Training

COVID-19: Updates to Postgraduate Training

As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses and further information becomes available, the College will be constantly providing new information to ensure the health and safety of our members and staff while promoting best practice at this trying time for the medical community. Click here for an evolving list of information by the College for all members and staff.

Temporary arrangements in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

We know that many trainees and supervisors are concerned about training issues at the moment and following an urgent meeting of the Postgraduate Training Committee on 24/3/2020 we would like to issue updated advice to trainees and supervisors.

In general, CPsychI is acutely aware of the strains which trainees and supervisors are under at present and will try to be as supportive and flexible as possible. We aim that no trainee’s career progression will be disadvantaged as a result of the COVID pandemic but we know that individual circumstances will vary and that sometimes we will need to review situations on a case by case basis. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any queries.

We would like to remind trainees about CPsychI supports which are available to them during times of need, in particular Educational Supervisors, Vice Deans, Tutors and HST Mentors. The Trainee Committee is also a valuable source of support and advice. Even at a distance, the Dean (Dr Aoibhinn Lynch), Chief Examiner (Dr Edwina Barry), Head of Continuous Assessment (Dr Fiona Crotty) as well as the staff of the Postgraduate Training Department are here to help where we can; please do not hesitate to contact us with any queries.

Please note that the following information may be updated or changed as necessary over the course of this exceptional period.

The next sitting of the BST Clinical Exam scheduled for 28 May 2020 will be postponed until the current crisis has passed and it is safe to proceed. It is not possible to fix an alternative date at this time as this will be subject to the availability of exam venues and other logistical issues. We will inform all trainees and the membership when a new date is fixed and will invite eligible trainees to re-apply. For those trainees who have already applied and paid for their next examination sitting, CPsychI is happy to return your fee (if you have paid online) or to hold it over to the next sitting. Any queries in this regard should be addressed to exams@irishpsychiatry.ie

Note: Any trainee, whether a streamlining or non-streamlining trainee, for whom the May 2020 examination is their last attempt at the BST Clinical Examination will be permitted to continue to the next sitting of the CPsychI Clinical Exam.

We are aware that there is considerable difficulty for some trainees in meeting their training and portfolio requirements at present. However, it will still be important for us to make important progress decisions based on continuous assessment material. We ask trainees to continue to submit portfolio items where possible. It may be an option to carry out Case Based Discussions, for example, with any Consultant on the Specialist Register in Psychiatry, even if by telephone or at a distance. Getting feedback on reflective writing or supervision sessions may still be possible and indeed may be important at this time. The scheduled submission deadlines will remain in place for mandatory portfolio items. Trainees should also submit evidence explaining any reason why they cannot submit portfolio items (like an email/circular stating that a journal club or Balint group is cancelled); this may be significant evidence for ARP panels to consider in future. Educational Supervisors’ reports will continue to be very important. If a trainee’s Educational Supervisor is on extended leave, a report from another Educational Supervisor will be acceptable. To check if a particular Consultant is a CPsychI Educational Supervisor, please contact portfolio@irishpsychiatry.ie

ARP panels will be due to consider trainees’ portfolio material during April 2020. At this point, our main priority will be to convene ARP panels to review portfolios for BSTs and HST in their final year, and who are due to exit the HST or BST programme or complete requirements for a CSCST in July 2020, as these are key points of progress. We would ask that these trainees submit all relevant material for a revised deadline of 12th April 2020.

It is likely that, for the prioritised reviews in April, ARP panels will be comprised of smaller groups of trained panel members and will only seek to meet trainees (by videoconference) in limited circumstances. ARP panels may seek additional information from Educational Supervisors (in the form of an extended supervisors report) in cases where the required portfolio material is incomplete.

As it stands we will not be holding ARP panels reviews in April for all other trainees. Depending on the prevailing circumstances we hope to hold these ARP reviews over the coming months, which we will inform you of in due course. As outlined above, however, it is advisable for all trainees to continue to collect relevant material where possible, as this will be reviewed by ARP panels at a later date. We will be in contact directly with all trainees prioritised for an ARP in April during the coming days.

Trainees should inform us if you have been redeployed in whole or in part as a result of arrangements being made for COVID 19. Trainees are reminded of the IMC advice to those being redeployed  https://www.medicalcouncil.ie/covid-19/  . ARP panels will take account of redeployment when considering training portfolios.

Trainees should also inform us of periods of certified leave related to COVID 19. CPsychI will review these instances on a case by case basis in terms of the impact on duration of training.

Documents relating to these issues should be submitted to portfolio@irishpsychiatry.ie

In view of the exceptional circumstances we are in, we will temporarily allow HSTs in their final year of training to ‘act up’ as a Consultant for a maximum of 3 months. This is a longer period than our Regulations usually allow but is still consistent with Medical Council of Ireland guidance. Periods of acting up are subject to the following conditions:

  • During this exceptional period, Senior Registrars may act up either for their own Educational/ Clinical supervisor or for another Consultant in their service aside from their Educational/ Clinical Supervisor, subject to the agreement of the Senior Registrar concerned.
  • Periods spent acting up are agreed in consultation and at the discretion of the Educational Supervisor and granted on an individual case-by-case basis in line with the training needs of the individual Trainee.
  • Senior Registrars must be paid at the appropriate Consultant grade for the duration of the period.
  • When acting up the doctor is working as a Consultant but has access at all times to a named specialist who has undertaken to provide a second opinion and advice at the request of the doctor who is acting up.
  • Each period of acting up must be followed up with a formal supervision session with the Educational Supervisor to report and feedback on the training experience.