Prevocational medical training during COVID 19


This advice has been superseded

Please see the further update that was sent to PGY1 and PGY2 doctors on 1 April 2020 at the link below. 

Dr Curtis Walker sent the email below to all clinical directors of training, RMO Units and CMOs on 26 March 2020.

26 March 2020

Prevocational medical training during COVID 19

This newsletter is particularly for Prevocational Educational Supervisors, Clinical Directors of Training and others involved in prevocational medical training. We recognise the need to increase the flexibility around medical education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Firstly, we want to acknowledge and thank you for the essential service you are providing in this very difficult period. You are playing a vital role and your experience and leadership are greatly appreciated as we know your interns will be looking to you for guidance and support.

We are aware that there are a number of concerns around meeting the training requirements for interns in this COVID-19 pandemic.

Interns working outside their accredited clinical attachments to meet service demands
Questions have been raised around whether interns can be requested to take up other roles outside of their accredited clinical attachments in order to support pandemic service delivery. We are working through how this might work in terms of making sure that the interns are well supported. We are aware that this will be a stressful time for all doctors and that interns are particularly vulnerable. Council is considering this issue and we will provide further advice as soon as possible.

Intern movement to new attachments
We are aware that some DHBs intend to keep interns in their current attachments for the next quarter to reduce movement around sites. We believe this is a sensible approach if it works well for you and the interns.

Intern-PES face to face meeting requirements
Some DHBs have already implemented a suspension of non-essential face to face meetings between staff, including those between interns and their prevocational educational supervisors. This seems a very sensible approach at this time and we suggest utilising alternate methods of communication, such as video calls, until it is appropriate to resume closer contact. Meetings using these methods should still be recorded in the intern’s ePort. We understand that it may be difficult for the usual meetings to occur if COVID-19 issues escalate.

Formal teaching programme requirements
Some DHBs have also suspended the face to face formal teaching programme. Some are offering online and alternate methods of providing this learning, but we understand that if service demands increase markedly, it may be difficult to offer formal teaching sessions. Council will be flexible with its approach around this requirement throughout this period.

Interns meeting time requirements if needing to self-isolate
Our advice is for prevocational educational supervisors to be flexible and pragmatic in applying current time requirements. Council would like you to use your judgement and each set of circumstances should be considered on a case by case basis. In general, intern progress and achievement should be considered in context across all of their attachments.

It is important that interns are not disadvantaged because of issues arising from COVID-19, but are also supported during what is a very stressful time. These are highly unusual circumstances and we encourage flexibility and adaptation where you can.

If you have concerns or would like to discuss an individual issue, please contact us on Alternatively, you can directly contact:
Emily Douglas: or Raylene Bateman:

I again thank you for your commitment in supporting our interns during this challenging time in addition to all you are doing in your own medical practice to keep our communities well. These are difficult and stressful times for all of us and we very much appreciate your dedication to supporting those who are in the early part of their career while we face the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kia kaha

Curtis Walker
Medical Council of New Zealand