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The Faculty embraces remote assessment

21 Sep 2020

In response to the challenge of covid-19, the Faculty will be delivering the vast majority of its examinations online this autumn. This enables candidates to be assessed irrespective of restrictions in place, providing key resilience to training progression or career development. In total, six examinations will be delivered remotely between early September and December, starting with the specialty membership examinations in restorative dentistry and orthodontics.

The lead examiner for the restorative dentistry examination describes his experience of the move to online assessment:

“The Faculty of Dental Surgery (FDS) at the Royal College of Surgeons of England launched the Membership in Restorative Dentistry (MRD) Examination a little over 25 years ago. The last sitting of the MRD was 12 months ago when the Restorative Specialty Membership (MEndo, MPerio and MPros) Examinations (RSMEs) were launched alongside. As a result, there was considerable interest in these new RSMEs from not only postgraduates and trainees in the UK but also from across the globe. Previous diets of the MRD would have examined up to 10 candidates but more were expected for the new RSMEs. Preparations were underway, Specialty Leads were appointed together with a General Restorative Lead and a new Examination Board was established with a newly appointed Chair. And then Covid-19 arrived and all was put on hold – at least initially! Following wide consultation both within FDS and outside, and as an FDS strategic priority, it was felt essential to run the Examinations to support the postgraduates and trainees and ensure that future training would not be held up. The format of the Examination was reviewed to be deliverable either face-to-face or remotely with a decision to be taken nearer to the Examination date as to mode of delivery. As Covid-19 restrictions were unlikely to be lifted such that face-to-face delivery would be possible, agreement was reached with the support of FDS, the Examination Board and the Examinations Department to deliver the Examinations remotely. Once announced, candidate numbers increased almost exponentially to a possible 52 which settled at 42. The two written papers with six Short Answer Questions in each were sat by all candidates over one day through a secure online platform. Three viva days followed for 28 candidates with General Restorative and Specialty unseen cases being assessed by 18 examiners; these were all hosted through MS Teams with each candidate having their ‘own’ room which the examiners visited at prescribed times and with separate breakout rooms for examiner discussion. The remaining candidates will be examined on the unseen cases in an identical way in November. Thanks to all those involved from RCS, the Specialty Leads and the Examiners, the first diet appears to have gone superbly and we can be reassured in the knowledge that a robust assessment has been delivered and candidates progress has been secured at a very challenging time." Professor Andrew Eder, Chair RSME Examination Board

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