McCombs launches healthcare Cybersecurity Leadership program

Oct. 9, 2019

The McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin announces the Leadership in Health Care Privacy and Security Risk Management certificate program, a new first-in-the-nation professional program designed to help address a critical workforce shortage issue. The program’s aim is to develop leaders who can manage risk in American healthcare systems, protecting them from fast-evolving cybersecurity threats. There are currently 350,000 unfilled cybersecurity job openings in the United States.

Endorsed by the Texas Hospital Association, and by CynergisTek and Clearwater Compliance, two top-ranked firms in healthcare cybersecurity, privacy and compliance, the program brings together leading industry experts as teachers and case facilitators.

“We are excited to offer this program to give students knowledge, leadership skills, and problem-solving competencies to protect patients from the irreparable harm that comes from the relentless cyber-attacks on health care organizations,” said Leanne Field, clinical professor and director for digital healthcare innovation at UT Austin and co-director of the program.

“The number of data breaches is rapidly increasing across the globe and cybersecurity threats have a major impact on patient safety in health care organizations,” said Sri Bharadwaj, chief information security officer at UC Irvine Health and co-director of the program.

“It is our job to remain on the cutting edge of experiential teaching and learning. We want to influence the health care industry in positive ways and we want to make sure our students are ready to meet the challenges facing business and health care,” said Jay Hartzell, McCombs dean.

The eight- week program graduated a pilot class of 16 participants in August 2019. Students ranged in age from their early 20s to their late 50s and included working professionals from cybersecurity, information technology, and clinical fields, as well as military veterans and recent college graduates.

“This was another way to give back and to use my military service in a unique field,” said veteran and student Eric Mercer. “Even with all the technology, this field is still people-based and I’ll be able to use my military expertise, which I’m looking forward to.”

Students had the choice of attending class in person or participating remotely via a live distance-learning video connection. Only six of the students were from the Austin area. Six others were from other parts of Texas and four were from outside the state (Alabama, Florida, Iowa, and Illinois).

“Graduates of the certificate program can expect starting salaries of $75,000 at a minimum,” says Field.

“Attracting and retaining cybersecurity talent is a major challenge in all industry sectors,” said Greg Garcia, executive director of cybersecurity for the Health Care and Public Sector Coordinating Council, and former assistant secretary for cybersecurity at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “This program is the kind of initiative that will develop a pipeline of cybersecurity leaders who will leverage their knowledge and capabilities to strengthen the cybersecurity and resilience of our nation’s health care systems.”

Graduates of the program receive a professional certificate and are able to implement their knowledge in their current jobs or in new positions. McCombs plans to offer the program again in spring 2020.