Training implications resulting from Covid-19

Covid-19 is rapidly altering the day to day running of our multidisciplinary pain medicine units with the extent and duration of the situation uncertain. The faculty is conscious of the implication on our trainees and fellows and will continue to update its advice over the coming months. 

We recognise that some units may face closures, some will cut back services and a number of our trainees and fellows will be redeployed during the Covid-19 outbreak. Most importantly it is a time to stay safe.  If you or a colleague need support through this time, we encourage you to contact your mentor or seek professional advice through your workplace or the College Converge program (a confidential and independent counselling and coaching program).  If you would like to speak to a senior fellow, please email us with your contact details and the staff will forward on your request. 

ANZCA has developed a number of overarching educational principles to guide decision-making in relation to education and training during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Overarching educational principles

  1. Patient care and maintaining a healthy workforce are our fundamental priorities at this time. Trainee wellbeing, including adequate supervision, is paramount.  
  2. ANZCA recognises that training requirements may be significantly disrupted in the coming months. We will make allowances for direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19. 
  3. Australian Medical Council/Medical Council of New Zealand accreditation of the college requires that pain medicine graduates meet minimum standards. ANZCA seeks to minimise disadvantage to trainees, whilst ensuring that its graduates are adequately trained to serve the public as specialist pain medicine physicians.
  4. While ANZCA will endeavour to be flexible in interpreting training requirements, extended training may be unavoidable in some circumstances.
  5. Trainees must continue to receive appropriate supervision and orientation (as per the FPM Training Handbook), even if they are redeployed to a different clinical area.
  6. ANZCA will work hard to communicate with trainees and fellows as developments occur.
The guidance provided in the table below will be reviewed and updated as the situation requires. 



If training units close or decrease their work load then:          

  • The SoT and the trainee need to inform the faculty. If clinic workload decreases, the degree by which it is decreased should be recorded and notified to the faculty

  • ​Trainees must maintain a weekly log book of their pain medicine related clinical and non-clinical time. SoTs will need to verify this and the log book needs to be submitted with each in-training assessment for the faculty to approve the accrued experience. 

  • Telehealth, tutorials, and acute pain can all be accrued towards pain medicine training. 

  • Applications for variations in training and exceptions will be considered by the faculty


  • Local long cases can go ahead if the unit feels it is appropriate.

  • We hope to hold external long cases in September if possible.  If it isn’t possible we will look to reschedule once it is appropriate to do so.

  • At this stage we anticipate being able to hold the fellowship examination for 2020 but will continue to monitor the situation.

  • We encourage trainees to complete their clinical case study now but please understand that the review process may take longer than usual depending on the work situation of the assigned examiner.

Workplace-based Progressive Feedback:

  • WBPFs should be performed relative to the volume of practice that the trainee is performing. The faculty understands that there might need to be greater flexibility than usual and that this is an evolving area. WBPFs can be done via telehealth. If you are having difficulty meeting this standard, please contact the faculty.

General Physical Examination Assessment

  • Trainees may not be able to complete the general physical examination (GPE) assessment within the first 11 weeks of training if their clinic is not seeing patients face to face. If this is the case please, note this in your first ITA and the GPE can be completed during the ITA period after your clinic starts seeing patients face to face again. 

Accreditation of units:

  • Accreditation visits are currently suspended and will resume when the current situation is considered stable.

  • Units that are currently awaiting accreditation will be considered by the faculty as accredited units until the faculty is able to arrange an on-site visit.

  • If units knowingly deviate from faculty standards, particularly around FTE, then they should inform the faculty.

  • The FPM understands that recruitment during this time will be challenging. 

Education resources and support:

  • The Advanced Clinical Skills Course scheduled for May has been cancelled.  

  • The faculty is exploring online active teaching to support training in addition to the resources already available. Training units are encouraged to continue tutorials via online delivery methods.

  • The faculty is planning a SoT online meeting later in the year. The local long case is one topic identified and SoTs are encouraged to send other suggested topics to the faculty.

For advice around your particular situation please contact the faculty

Access to the Converge counselling service is via 1300 687 327 in Australia or 0800 666 367 in New Zealand or
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