Where are the IT security pros?
But there is a skills gap when it comes to finding IT and security professionals that are well versed and have the right background and experience, and healthcare isn't the only industry feeling the security pressure.
"It's a big need across all industries right now, and there's an absolute shortage of individuals that have the requisite skills and experience to contribute, and we see it in finance, retail, energy and healthcare," says McMillian.
One major issue is that the technology moves faster than we can educate and prepare workers for the changes. McMillian points out that healthcare technology has moved into people's homes, it's not just in healthcare facilities. Patients have personal healthcare wearables, or healthcare devices to help manage everything from basic lifestyle changes to diseases.
And for much of this technology, we just don't have a clear picture of how to manage potential threats yet. Therefore, says McMillian, not only do current IT security professionals need to figure out solid solutions to help protect patients and data, they then need to teach it to new members of the staff.
And while colleges and universities have stepped up and started diversifying their technology degrees to include more specialized fields, it isn't an instant fix by any means. Roszkowski sits on the board for colleges and universities in her area, and has seen how it can take a while for changes in education to reap real world benefits. "One of the challenges that [colleges and universities] are experiencing is that it takes three years to change the curriculum, so they can identify changes now but they typically have to implement it for the next incoming freshman class," says Roszkowski.
How can you expand your IT security experience?
Even though there are more specialized degree programs popping up that help prepare the next generation of IT professionals for a focused career path, hospitals still need to wait for them to gain the right experience. That is one thing each expert emphasizes, that it's not so much about having a background in healthcare, but you need a willingness to gain the experience necessary to succeed as an IT security professional in this industry.
"The jobs are definitely there if grads are willing to take entry-level positions with employers who can give them healthcare industry experience and additional training," says Elster.
Roszkowski notes the importance of internships and gaining real world experience, especially while you are in school. And if you're out of school, try taking on side projects or expanding your experience at work. However, you don't necessarily need the healthcare background to get into healthcare security.
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