Vol. 25 No 4 | Summer 2023
Introduction and background of ALEC
Matt Stewart
Head of Examinations, RANZCOG

In the dynamic landscape of obstetrics and gynaecology, the emergence of the Assessment, Learning and Examination Centre (ALEC) marks a transformative stride towards redefining the examination experience for medical professionals. Recognising the challenges posed by the reliance on hospital facilities to deliver face-to-face examinations, ALEC was conceived as a dedicated venue to safeguard the robustness of medical assessments.

The need for ALEC crystallised as ad-hoc facilities revealed inconsistencies in examination experiences across multiple circuits. A critical juncture presented itself when face-to-face examinations returned after the pandemic and highlighted the significance of a purpose-built space. Traditional methods, relying on paper-based marking, stopwatches, and bells for timekeeping in Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs), were ready for a comprehensive overhaul.

The foresight to amalgamate the advantages of online examinations, such as digital timekeeping and marking, with the inherent benefits of face-to-face interactions fuelled the inception of ALEC. Nestled within the office space in Djeembana, the vision became clear – to create a multifaceted facility that not only caters to the needs of RANZCOG but also fills the void of dedicated examination spaces in Australia.

Beyond its immediate impact, ALEC’s purpose and vision extend to addressing the unmet need for specialised examination centres in the country. A thorough feasibility analysis underscored the potential for ALEC to be not only a home for RANZCOG examinations but also a sought-after venue for external hire, meeting the broader demand for dedicated examination spaces.

In essence, the launch of ALEC signifies more than a mere venue; it represents a commitment to excellence, innovation, and consistency in medical examinations. ALEC stands as a testament to adaptability in medical education, offering a controlled, purpose-built environment for RANZCOG trainees and examiners and paving the way for a new era in face-to-face assessments.

Facilities and Features

ALEC boasts a meticulously designed infrastructure across its two levels, featuring 12 rooms per floor. A distinctive aspect is the provision of an identical room and floor plan layout, facilitating the simultaneous operation of multiple examination circuits. This innovative approach ensures a uniform and equitable experience for both candidates  and examiners.

Each room is equipped with two 1080p pan tilt zoom cameras, enhancing the examination process by capturing comprehensive views and facilitating thorough assessments. Complementing this, dedicated control rooms on each level enable seamless monitoring and coordination of examinations, contributing to the efficiency of the assessment process. To ensure the accuracy of marking each examiner is equipped with their own iPad marking interface ensuring examination  data is recorded with 100% accuracy during the candidate’s examination.

ALEC prioritises a conducive examination environment, surpassing national standards in sound isolation for consultation rooms, examination rooms, and birthing suites. This commitment to acoustic excellence enhances the focus and privacy crucial to medical assessments.

The centre is strategically designed with two separate reception and briefing areas, emphasising efficiency, and minimising disruptions. Furthermore, ALEC ensures a clear physical demarcation between briefing/quarantine areas and examination circuits, including separate bathroom facilities. This thoughtful layout optimises the workflow and experience for candidates and examiners.

One of ALEC’s remarkable features is its versatility in simulating various medical settings. The rooms range in size from 14m² to 20m². Additionally, there are two operable walls per level, combining two rooms into a flexible space of 32m². This adaptability allows ALEC to replicate hospital ward rooms, larger birthing suites, procedural rooms, and consulting suites, accommodating a spectrum of medical scenarios.

In essence, ALEC’s facilities and features are a testament to its commitment to excellence in medical education and examination. The centre’s thoughtful design ensures a standardised, technologically advanced, and adaptable environment, setting a new standard for professional assessments in obstetrics and gynaecology.

Launch Event

The launch event for ALEC, on 16 November 2023, marked a significant milestone. Following the Presidential Inauguration of Dr Gillian Gibson, and introduction of the 13th Council, Professor Ian Symonds, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG; the College) Dean of Education and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic, at the International Medical University, opened the centre. This event symbolised a formal commencement of ALEC, setting the stage for its role in advancing medical education and examinations under the guidance of respected leaders in the field.

President, Dr Gillian Gibson, and Professor Ian Symonds at ALEC Opening

President, Dr Gillian Gibson, and Professor Ian Symonds at ALEC Opening

Significance in the Field

ALEC stands as a pioneering force in advancing education and examinations in obstetrics and gynaecology, emerging as one of the few dedicated examination spaces in Australia. In the realm of medical assessment, ALEC is not only distinctive, but it is also the only operational venue in Victoria that is dedicated to health professional face-to-face examinations.

The genesis of ALEC traces back to a strategic collaboration with the Adelaide Health Simulation facility at the University of Adelaide. Associate Professor Adam Montagu and Mr Michael Gilmour played pivotal roles in shaping ALEC’s design and planning. Their expertise, coupled with insights into RANZCOG’s designs, business, and operational plans, laid the foundation for a cutting-edge examination facility.

The significance of ALEC extends beyond obstetrics and gynaecology, garnering substantial interest from various medical colleges and government bodies. A landmark partnership with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia positions ALEC as only the second site in Australia conducting Objective Structured Clinical Examinations for internationally trained nurses and midwives. Commencing in December 2023, this collaboration exemplifies ALEC’s role in fostering broader healthcare assessments.

As ALEC progresses, it anticipates evolving into a vital business unit of RANZCOG. This transformation envisions ALEC hosting a spectrum of government examinations, medical college assessments, and other clients. Such collaborations not only fortify the College’s capacity to deliver high-quality, consistent examinations, but also position ALEC as a hub for diverse healthcare professions in Australia. ALEC’s journey signifies a paradigm shift in medical education and examinations, exemplifying a commitment to excellence and collaboration that transcends disciplines and boundaries.

User Experience

We would have to say that holding our very first Fellowship oral exam in the College’s new exam centre was a breath of fresh air. We will always be grateful to the hospitals that have helped host our exams over the years, but running an exam in a hospital or on Zoom necessarily has its limitations. We now have the space, the facilities, and the technology to be able to run our exam the way we want to. The new centre (ALEC) is a bespoke design befitting the needs of the College’s oral exam, but it also has the flexibility and scope to allow us to potentially develop new and expanded methods of assessment. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for the centre.

Dr Jo Gullam and Dr Paul Conaghan
FRANZCOG Oral Examination Directors


Dr Jo Gullam and Dr Paul Conaghan’s words encapsulate the transformative impact of ALEC on medical examinations. ALEC, more than a venue, signifies innovation and excellence in medical education. With cutting-edge design and collaborative partnerships, it sets a new standard. Beyond RANZCOG, ALEC emerges as a hub for healthcare assessments. As it looks ahead, ALEC symbolises the evolution of medical examinations, promising a future where innovation and excellence converge to shape the landscape of assessments in obstetrics and gynaecology.

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