Specialty Committee Chairs’ Update

January and February 2023

Table of contents

  1. Royal College reorganization
  2. Future role of specialty, advisory, and Area of Focused Competence committees
  3. In-person meetings 2023
  4. 2022 discipline status reports
  5. Area of Focused Competence update

Royal College reorganization

At the Specialty Committee Chairs’ Workshop in November, we provided an overview of the changes happening within the staff and organizational structure of the Royal College. These changes are being made to better align our work processes and teams to the strategic objectives of the Royal College. For specialty, advisory, and Area of Focused Competence (AFC) committees, in particular, the reorganization is being undertaken with a goal to enhance the organization’s ability to support Fellows throughout the continuum of your careers from trainee to retirement.

In the December edition of this newsletter, we committed to providing an organizational chart showing the new structure and who is in which leadership roles. The charts of the new Office of Learning and Connecting, led by Guylaine Lefebvre, MD, FRCSC, and the Office of Standards and Assessment led by Glen Bandiera, MD, BASc (Engin.), MEd, FRCPC are below.

There are still some pieces of this reorganization that remain to be finalized and we will provide further updates regarding any that may affect the work of specialty, advisory, and AFC committees.

Your committee administrator will not be changing as part of this reorganization. You will continue to receive the same support that you receive now. Your administrator will continue to serve as your first point of contact and advocate here at the Royal College.

Early in 2023, the following key changes occurred:

  • Damon Dagnone, MD, MSc, MMEd, FRCPC, assumed the new role of director of Standards and Accreditation as of January 16, 2023. Dr. Dagnone will oversee the aspects of the work led by Jennifer Stewart, MHS, – namely, the Specialty Standards team. This team remains in the Office of Standards and Assessment.
  • Steven Bellemare, MD, FRCPC, assumed the new role of director, Member Experience and External Relations in December. As of January, the Specialty Support team led by Chris Farley Ratcliffe has now moved this directorate (formerly known as the Office of Membership Engagement and Programs). Chris is now reporting to Lisa Gorman, the associate director of Member Experience.
  • As we previously communicated, Jolanta Karpinski, MD, MMed, FRCPC, stepped down from her role as associate director of the Specialties Unit at the end of 2022. We thank Dr. Karpinski for the tireless work and advocacy she offered the unit over the past decade.

The Specialty Support and the Specialty Standards teams will continue to work closely together to support you and your committee.

Future role of specialty, advisory, and Area of Focused Competence committees

As part of this staff reorganization, we have a significant opportunity to clarify and modernize the roles of the specialty, advisory, and AFC committees and confirm you are optimally supported to facilitate the work of your committees.

We would like to know more about your experiences and your reflections on the mandate of the committees, the enablers and challenges you encounter undertaking your work, and the opportunities you see in 2023 and beyond. We know all the committees supported by the Specialty Support team are critical to achieving the important work of the Royal College, and with over 103 committees supported by the Specialty Support team, we want to ensure you are well-supported, while we strive to achieve efficiencies. We also know there are many changes underway including the DMET project, the operational review of AFCs, and a need to think critically about in-person meetings - our goal is to ensure these opportunities are leveraged to enhance the support model for you, and proactively guard against any gaps as these changes unfold.

We are in the process of preparing a consultation plan to seek input from you and from staff across the Royal College that will help us identify options and opportunities. Once we finalize this plan we will be in contact with all of you to provide details. You will be at the centre of this process and key partners in this discussion.

In-person meetings 2023

In summer 2022, we had a small fire that resulted in extensive water and smoke damage to the Royal College offices and meeting rooms. As a result, we had limited capacity to host in-person meetings throughout fall 2022.

The post-fire restoration work and installation of new audiovisual (AV) equipment has now been completed and we are once again able to use the Royal College facilities for some, but not all, meetings.

Not all committee meetings will be returning to an in-person format. We are applying new guidelines to support decision making as to whether a virtual or in-person/hybrid format is the most appropriate one for each meeting.

Three over-arching considerations will be taken into account when considering requests for in-person meetings:

  • Planetary health.
  • Equity and access.
  • Resource stewardship.

We have learned over the course of the last few years that many topics can be addressed through virtual meetings. Based on this learning and the above principles, most specialty and AFC committee meetings will continue to be virtual. You have been leaders in virtual meetings: prior to the pandemic, close to half of specialty, advisory, and AFC committee meetings were virtual.

In some cases, we know it is more efficient to hold a longer meeting rather than a series of shorter meetings and we know that there are some complex issues that are better discussed at in-person meetings. We also recognize the value that meeting in person has in terms of building relationships with colleagues and Royal College staff.

Beyond the three considerations above, we have developed guidelines for determining whether a meeting is better suited for a virtual or hybrid meeting:

  • Meeting purpose – in-person meetings should address complex issues, significant standards revisions or facilitate significant change to committee membership.
  • Meeting length – we require hybrid meetings to be at least six hours in length to ensure that committee members who take the time and energy to travel to Ottawa for a meeting are making a worthwhile investment.
  • Meeting attendance – a number equivalent to 80 percent of voting members must commit to attending the meeting in-person.

As you plan for your spring and fall 2023 meetings, your administrator will work with you to determine the best format to fit your committee’s needs and to secure approval for in-person meeting requests, based on the above criteria and on knowledge of each committee’s meeting pattern and upcoming workload/projects. 

Funding policies related to AFC subcommittees and specialty committee meetings held in conjunction with national specialty society meetings remain in place. We are reviewing these policies and will provide an update if they change.

2022 discipline status reports

Your Specialty Support team is working with other Royal College units to collect and collate data for the 2022 Discipline Status Reports.  Distributed to chairs annually, the Discipline Status Report highlights the activities of your committee and includes reports on meeting statistics, membership, examination results, credentialing information, accreditation trends, CaRMS and CAPER data, and health human resources data.  Marked confidential, this report contains data that cannot be distributed widely; however, some sections can be shared with your committee. 

Chairs can expect the Discipline Status Reports in April.  Please contact your administrator at specialtycommittees@royalcollege.ca if you have any questions, notice any errors, or have suggestions for sections that ought to be included in the report itself. 

Area of Focused Competence update

PER-AFC applications on the rise

AFC committees have been actively promoting their practice routes and recruiting applicants. We acknowledge the work, time and effort that has been contributed to support your discipline. The result of these efforts can be seen in the increase in the number of requests for Practice Eligibility Route (PER-AFC) applications and Diplomates coming forward. Since March 2022, when we began tracking this data, we have received 194 requests for applications, 54 of which were in January 2023. Since February 2021, when the first reformed practice route opened, 65 Diplomates have come forward, with 61 of these arriving in 2022. In addition, 22 of the 28 eligible disciplines now have one or more Diplomates.

Since February 2021, 20 disciplines have opened their practice route, with an additional three routes expected to open before spring. The list of disciplines with PER-AFC will continue to be updated as new routes open. We are confident that recently recognized disciplines and those beginning development of PER-AFC following the approval of their standards will benefit from the streamlined process and operational expertise gained in the last two years.

Updates to the Promoting AFC Disciplines Resource Kit

  • The customizable presentation deck to help AFC Committees promote their discipline has been updated for 2023. Please reach out to Linda Rumleski, AFC program manager, if you need assistance preparing for a presentation or customizing the deck.
  • An update to the strategies to promote AFC disciplines resource is planned for spring. Send us a summary of a strategy that works for your discipline, and we will add it to the list. Tips and tricks are also welcome.
  • We are continuing to meet with AFC Committees to support their work to promote their discipline and the credential. If you would like to add an agenda item for this presentation/ discussion at your next meeting, please let your AFC committee administrator know.
  • We are working on a new guidance document for the Kit. We welcome your ideas for additional topics where guidance is needed.
  • The AFC Resource site has been updated now that the work on the AFC Program Evaluation Management Action Plan (AFC PE MAP) is complete. Content on the site has been refined and new subheadings added to improve navigation and findability.
  • Work to improve AFC web content will resume in late spring. If there are opportunities for improvement that you would like to flag, please pass them along to your committee administrator or the AFC Program Manager. 

Committee on Specialties special review

We are pleased to share with you that the Committee on Specialties (COS) special review, launched in June 2020, is now complete. The review’s objective was to examine factors impacting the time taken for each discipline to achieve full implementation and to identify barriers and challenges experienced during the process. The COS reviewed 11 disciplines consisting of three cohorts. An additional cohort of 13 disciplines participated in focus groups or 1:1 interviews to share their experiences and best practices as a fully implemented discipline (one that has opened both routes to the credential).

  • In spring 2023, COS will receive a final report on the special review which will include recommendations to address the barriers identified and to improve operations. Recommendations are being developed collaboratively by the eight operational units that support AFC disciplines to ensure consistency and cohesion across the Royal College AFC Program. Stay tuned! AFC Committees can expect an update on the outcomes of the special review following COS’ consideration of the report. 

Operational review – expect a better experience!

Following the conclusion of our work on the AFC PE MAP and in anticipation of the special review recommendations, the Royal College will turn our attention to adopting the lessons learned and making operational enhancements to improve the experience of those who participate in the AFC Program. As part of this work, we will review the original assumptions of the AFC category, including strategic considerations related to the fee model. We anticipate that the operational review will continue over the coming months, with Royal College committees such as the COS, being engaged in the review in spring 2023.

This work will be enhanced by two other major Royal College initiatives: Alignment and Digital Member Experience Transformation (DMET). We are identifying new ways of working across the two new offices, the Office of Standards and Assessment (OSA) and the Office of Learning and Connecting (OLC), to transform the ways we deliver the AFC program and support AFC committees, Fellows, and Diplomates.