CRPA(R) Prep, February 2022
Remote CRPA Registration Examination
The CRPA(R) designation is the highest level of competency for radiation safety professionals recognized by CRPA at the Canadian level. The designation ensures regulators, employers, and members of the public can have confidence in the qualifications of a registered radiation safety professional (RRSP) who has a CRPA(R) designation.
The program is administered by CRPA, and the annual exam is typically administered at the annual CRPA conference. When the 2020 conference was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so was the CRPA(R) exam. While, once again, there was no conference in 2021, the association did find a way to offer the registration exam.
The first remote CRPA registration exam was held on November 28, 2021, in two widely separated Canadian sites—British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) in Burnaby, BC, and McMaster University in Hamilton, ON—and 10 candidates participated.
Offering the exam outside of the conference was an idea that had been considered before, but the pandemic was the catalyst that made it happen. In addition to the pandemic, there are several other reasons the board decided to move forward with this format:
- Accessibility: There are many individuals who experience barriers to attendance at a conference due to costs, timing, and whatnot. The association was looking for ways to make the exam as accessible as possible.
- Increased number of candidates: We wanted to find a way to include more potential candidates who don’t normally attend our conference, such as industry groups and organizations where staff regularly use radiation devices (e.g., Canadian Border Services, etc.).
- Modernization: Many other exams have already adopted this approach, including Part I of the American Board of Health Physics (ABHP) Certified Health Physicist exam, which can now be written at different testing centres across both the US and Canada.
The CRPA(R) exam must be proctored by those who already have their CRPA (R) designation, so we initiated a poll to gauge interest and availability of CRPA(R)s to provide an exam site and to proctor the exam. CRPA(R)s in two locations came forward. The proctors contribute significantly by printing (at no cost to the association) the regulatory reference material (curated by the chair of the Registration Subcommittee) provided to candidates during the exam. The secretariat was key in coordinating shipments of exam writing supplies and emailing exams, stickers, and answer sheets.
The actual exam sitting went well and no issues were reported by the exam proctors. The Registration Subcommittee chair was available to the proctors via cellular phone during the exam. According to the secretariat, the entire process was smooth and efficient and served as a benchmark for potential future remote exams.
Congratulations to our six newest CRPA(R)s:
- Ryan Cooke
- Adetayo Onikosi
- Julianna Sebsatiani
- David Shen
- Alan Tung
- Josip Zic
Challenges of a remote exam
Setting an exam remotely instead of in person did present a few challenges:
- The Registration Subcommittee usually meets immediately after the on-site exam to review the results.
- Typically, new CRPA(R)s are introduced during the conference at the CRPA(R) lunch meeting and presented with their registration certificates and CRPA(R) pins. Because there was no conference and the exam was held remotely, there was no in-person introduction/certificate presentation—certificates and pins were sent out by mail or courier.
- Exemplary organizational skills were required to ensure the proctors received all the material necessary for the exam.
- Had the proctors not agreed to print the exam material, the secretariat would have had to assemble and deliver 10 binders of 500 pages each.
The registration exam is only one step in the process, which also involves assessing academic achievement (based on a record of training referenced against the competency profile and curriculum guide) and experience in the radiation field. At the end of the day, due diligence must be exercised in reviewing any application and registration, whether remote or in-person.
Clearly, communicating to potential candidates what the CRPA(R) is, the benefits of the designation, and it’s place in the Canadian radiation protection landscape, as well as making the exam more accessible to a broader audience will only help grow the number of CRPA(R)s and raise awareness of this credential in our field.