News | Financial Leadership

First Illinois Chapter's CHFP practicum goes virtual and regional

News | Financial Leadership

First Illinois Chapter's CHFP practicum goes virtual and regional



The First Illinois Chapter has offered an annual CHFP practicum for several years. Like many things, however, this year's event was different.

Planning and hosting a virtual event are quite a bit different than for an in-person event. Just ask Meagan Edgren, CHFP, a financial analyst in revenue accounting at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, and Connor Loftus, CFA, a manager with Claro Healthcare in Chicago, the co-chairs of the First Illinois Chapter’s certification committee. Their comments — about pulling together the Chapter's first virtual CHFP practicum that took place Feb. 4-5 — have been combined in this Q&A. 

Meagan Edgren, CHFP, financial analyst in revenue accounting at Northwestern Medicine

Meagan Edgren said it was decided early to include other HFMA chapters in the virtual CHFP practicum.

Connor Loftus said networking is an important element of the practicum.

How was this year’s event different?

Typically, it’s a one-day, in-person event designed to help individuals complete their journey toward becoming a Certified Healthcare Financial Professional (CHFP). It also provides an opportunity to network with already certified chapter members. Due to the pandemic, however, we decided to try hosting the event virtually. We also decided pretty early in planning to include the other HFMA chapters in our region in hopes that their members also would benefit.

So together with our committee and the certification chairs from the other Region 7 chapters, we planned a two-day virtual course focused primarily on the second module of the CHFP exam: Operational Excellence. 

Did you encounter any challenges along the way?

Our biggest challenge was navigating the new HFMA e-learning platform. The transition to the new site occurred at the same time as our event. Modifying the program to accommodate the virtual environment also required extra thought to ensure participants realized the benefits we’ve seen with the in-person sessions of the past.

What was the outcome?

Despite the challenges, six of the 34 individuals in the practicum cohort attempted the CHFP Operational Excellence exam, with a pass rate of nearly 70%. The others plan to take the exam in the near future. We will continue to follow up with those who did not attempt or pass the Operational Excellence exam to ensure they are well supported.  

What was key to planning and hosting a successful event?

One of the biggest keys to our success was our instructor Christoph Stauder, FHFMA, CPA. He’s a past president of the Oregon Chapter and has taught HFMA certification classes since 1988. Additionally, our certification committee put in extra outreach effort to find chapter members interested in pursuing the CHFP certification, help them sign up and support them through completion of the exams.

Any advice for other HFMA chapters interested in hosting a similar event?

Try to get individuals from all aspects of healthcare involved — not just providers but also payers and consultants as well as a range of positions and experience levels. This creates more unique discussion around the case studies as everyone brings their own perspective, background and experiences to the solution.   

About the Author

Crystal Milazzo

is a writer and editor with HFMA, based in Beaverton, Ore.

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