HFMA Academy: new ways set out to gain masters-level qualification

16 September 2020 Alison Myles

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The HFMA is introducing more flexible studying arrangements to achieve its masters-level diplomas in healthcare business and finance.Alison Myles

The association is keen to remove any barriers to studying for its advanced qualifications, which provide a route through to studying for an MBA in healthcare finance, awarded by BPP University. One of these perceived barriers is the time commitment involved over a sustained period combined with specific milestones and diary events.

For example, a student signing up to either the advanced diploma or higher diploma faces a fixed timetable for each module lasting 17 weeks. This includes weekly live sessions with a module tutor and an assessment.

This provides students with the potential to complete three modules in a year and so achieve the diploma with one year’s study.

However, not everyone feels able to commit to such a structured programme. So the association has added a new additional route to achieving its diploma, enabling students to match their studies to their own preferences.

Students would still sign-up to three modules for either the advanced diploma or higher diploma. However, they could study at their own pace. There would still be a finite window within which they would have to finish their studies, but students could work much more at their own pace, choosing when to start studying and how long to take for each module.

And with the self-study approach, they could choose from three assessment windows rather than work towards fixed assessment windows for each module.

The two approaches – self-study or tutor-led – both draw on the same content, although the self-study route uses materials from the HFMA bitesize courses and there are differences in the assignments that students have to complete.

However, self-study students will be able to switch to the tutor-led programme if they subsequently decide that this provides a better match to their studying style.

Alternatively, those wanting to take even smaller steps towards the qualifications can study individual HFMA bitesize courses. Once all the courses have been studied within a diploma module, students could then purchase an assessment.

The aim is to provide a range of different ways for people to access the qualifications. Once students have gained the advanced higher diploma, they are eligible to sign up for the MBA in healthcare finance.

The first seven graduates from this programme gained their MBAs earlier this year and a further eight students are on track to complete the course by the end of the year.

Student success

Nineteen learners completed advanced modules in the May assessment, having started their various modules in January. This represented an impressive 86% pass rate, with two learners achieving a merit and one receiving a distinction.

There was high level of deferrals as learners’ ability to study was affected by the NHS response to the Covid-19 pandemic, with work pressures an issue for several on the programme.

The submissions were spread across six modules, including deferred submissions from previous intakes, with four modules run in the first half of the year. The module on comparative health systems attracted the most students in the January intake.

A new batch of learners began a module this month, with applications up 25% compared with January.

For more about HFMA qualifications visit the HFMA website 

Alison Myles is HFMA director of education