This year challenged the status quo. Many of us were asked to adapt to new surroundings and find creative solutions to unexpected situations. In the face of these challenges, we at ITS aimed to uphold one of our core values: our commitment to our partners.
Over the course of this year, we’ve constantly sought opportunities to support our partners. Success is sweetest when shared, so success through collaboration with a partner—through exchanging ideas and brainstorming possibilities—is especially rewarding.
We’re proud to share an exciting win we had with the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (ABPMR). Together, we brought the ABPMR’s oral exam online and ensured that candidates could successfully, confidently, and safely test, even from their homes.
The ABPMR Part II Certification Examination is an oral exam traditionally hosted in person, using a paper-based format, with multiple examiners present to assess each candidate’s clinical competency. The ABPMR already had plans to transition the exam away from paper and pencil. The pandemic accelerated those plans.
Our goal in partnering was to move the oral exam content online and figure out the best way to deliver the exam remotely.
We spent (virtual) time together to understand the ABPMR’s program, staff, and candidates. We dove deep into accomplishments and pain points by discussing exploratory questions:
- What boxes need to be checked for your exam administration to be successful?
- What concerns are you hearing from stakeholders?
- What solutions have you considered before speaking with us?
- How can we get creative and ensure exam security?
- What tools are available and what needs to be developed?
As with any project involving a partner, an important aspect of the exploration and design stage is transparency. ITS has a test delivery solution, but our new remote proctoring platform will not be available until the first quarter of 2021.
We shared what our platform could deliver, what’s lined up in our product roadmap, and what we could accomplish with the tools currently available. Our joint teams used this information to pull together a solution that could meet the needs of the program and its candidates even before the remote proctoring platform was available.
Our joint solution included moving all cases into the ITS item bank, using the ITS delivery system, and enabling Zoom as the video conferencing software to be used alongside the delivery system. The ABPMR managed communication; assigned various tasks to its internal team, including check-in, proctoring, and tech troubleshooting; conducted delivery system training sessions with volunteer examiners; and ran Zoom with the testing program.
To play it safe, we built a continuity plan, and the ABPMR added additional examiners into the exam process to mitigate the risk of internet connectivity issues. The ABPMR also elected not to show candidates the stem of each patient case in order to reduce the risks inherent in screen-sharing.
This move from paper to online (and remote!) introduced big hurdles for everyone involved, but the process was facilitated by the ability of both partners to come together and provide best practices from their areas of expertise.
The ABPMR successfully delivered three remote administrations of the oral exam. Their swift response to a difficult external situation allowed them to maintain a high standard for their exam processes and enabled several hundred candidates to continue their pursuit of board certification.
The ABPMR recognized an opportunity to evolve and initiate change for the benefit of candidates. Those candidates now trust that testing is possible, even in the midst of a challenge on the scale of a global pandemic.