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The RCPI has announced that 2,700 doctors, from 38 countries, have taken its written membership examinations for postgraduate medical qualifications during the past year using advanced remote examination invigilation technology developed by TestReach.
The RCPI expects the number of doctors sitting examinations using TestReach’s technology to increase during 2021.
TestReach, an Irish company, has doubled its workforce to over 70 during the last year to meet the demand from clients, such as RCPI, for its online examination technology.
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 utilising remote invigilation technology, RCPI has enabled doctors to continue to sit their exams in a secure manner, from home or a secure location.
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.
RCPI tests over 4,000 candidates a year in written, clinical and OSCE formats both nationally and internationally.
The College had initially commenced working with TestReach to transform the exam management system in 2019, so that all question and exam paper development could take place securely online.
With the impact of the pandemic, RCPI switched 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.
According to TestReach, it 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,” stated the company.
TestReach, co-founded by Ms Sheena Bailey and Ms Louella Morton, developed the technology in Ireland with support from Enterprise Ireland. It 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 Mr 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.”
Ms 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.”
“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.
“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.”
Mr O’Mahony added: “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.”