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The Lowdown on NHS Financial Management Training

23/01/2015

Following his Economics degree from the university of Westminster, 25-year-old Amin Choudhury is now working as a Finance Management Trainee Accountant as part of the finance department at Great Ormond Street Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. He studies for the CIPFA qualification too, which will mean he will qualify as a Chartered Public Finance Accountant. He let us in on what the programme is like…

The Lowdown on NHS Financial Management Training

Could you give a brief outline of your training programme?

The finance programme is slightly longer than the other specialisms at 31 months; this is mainly due to the exams for the CIPFA qualification. Successfully completing all 11 exams (some get exemptions but I opted-out) makes you a qualified Chartered Public Finance Accountant and you are entitled to use the CPFA designation after your name!

 

Public finance accounting work consists of several different elements; what kind of tasks do you find yourself performing most often at the moment?

At the moment I am working on tasks that are in line with the earlier modules of the professional qualification – a lot of financial accounting and reporting. This changes as you progress through the scheme and the work becomes more operational and strategic. The order in which you have the experience may differ to other trainees as every trainee is in a different organisation. However, the training is structured to achieve consistency and standards through a list of competencies that every trainee should achieve and programme managers help to achieve this.

 

What do you find most interesting about working in the NHS? What was the appeal of a public finance role over private finance?

The NHS is going through a very interesting time as we’ve had a major reorganisation of the structure of the industry coupled with major financial challenges. This would make for an interesting time to join any organisation but the NHS is so large and far-reaching in England that it means everyone has a keen interest and I get to be involved in some of the decision-making which has a direct impact on a large population.

The NHS finance stream interested me not only for the professional qualification it offers but also the training in leadership through the Mary Seacole Postgraduate Certificate course and practical training through Experiential Learning.

Personally, the public sector appeals to me because I’ve always been involved in ‘giving back’ and it also appeals to me because my efforts are exponentially rewarded through great feedback from our end-users, the patients.

 

How closely do you work with more senior employees/mentor-type figures? Do you work on your own cases or do trainees start on an assisting basis?

I work with senior people very often and being part of the Graduate Scheme helps to get into meetings with senior people. However, it is also important to learn your craft by engaging in the daily operational activities by assisting other colleagues and learning best practices.

 

Is your job high pressured? If so, how do you deal with it?

Yes, I think pressure is inevitable in any organisation but more so when your end-users are patients that require you to do your job well so they may receive the care that they need.

The Scheme is set up into regions, and being part of the London region I’ve found my fellow trainees to be extremely supportive at times when I found that I am under pressure. Also, the support offered by the Leadership Academy (the organisation that co-ordinated the Graduate Scheme) is excellent and they are always readily available with buckets of experience from previous intakes.

 

What’s the biggest no-no for someone hoping to apply for a trainee scheme in Public Finance Accounting?

If you’re looking for an accounting role that requires you to be at a desk all day then this is the wrong choice – the public sector is stretched and if you are part of the Scheme you will find that you do more than just ‘finance’. For example, speaking with service managers about re-designing how they deliver dermatology clinics.

 

Maths is of course crucial to get on in this industry, but what other skills have you found important during your NHS Programme thus far?

Communication is an extremely important skill that is very valuable when you are a trainee but also when you are a manager. The industry is going through challenges and the change happening is continuous, so to keep ahead of this and to make sure everyone is on-board, sound communication skills help to overcome these challenges.

 

Did any of your life experiences (such as joining a society or sports club) enhance your application for public finance accounting?

Every life experience (providing it is legal and ethical) will help your application as trainees come from all ages and backgrounds but the common thread in all trainees is that everyone has a strong desire to make a difference for patients and the ambition to go out there and do it!

 

Do you have an idea about the direction you’d like your career to take when you’re completed your training?

I am keen to learn from healthcare organisations in other countries in the medium term future but for the long term (ten years) I aim to become a Director at an organisation I believe I can add value to.

 

By Amin Choudhury, NHS Foundation Trust Finance Management Trainee Accountant