School of Nursing adds non-nursing major to kick off fall semester

School of Nursing adds non-nursing major to kick off fall semester

Photo by John David Clark, Photography Editor

As Hurricane Florence barrels towards the East Coast, disaster relief personnel from all over the country are getting ready to face the damage. Lee University’s School of Nursing has created a new program to prepare students for future natural disasters like Florence.

This semester, the school has added the Disaster and Healthcare Mission Management major. While the major resides in the School of Nursing, it is classified as a non-nursing major, as students can complete this program without a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. 

According to Enrollment and Advising Specialist Jacob Fast, the vision for the DHMM began with School of Nursing Dean Sara Campbell and nursing professor Brenda Jones.

“[Campbell] thought the program was a perfect fit for Lee,” Fast said, adding, “[Jones has] a deep passion about this new adventure [Lee] has embarked upon to teach and train students in Disaster Preparedness and Healthcare Mission Management.”

Lee’s value system, centered around ethical action, responsible citizenship and redemptive service, assured Campbell and other professors like Rachel Tolliver that the university will cultivate the program well. 

“A college could rest on its laurels that this system is working, but Lee is innovative,” Tolliver said. “The nursing department as a whole is a part of the vision for Lee.”

The decision to implement the program at Lee was partly inspired by similar programs offered at various colleges across the United States. However, Lee has decided to classify the program as non-nursing, opening up the opportunity for students who want to pursue a career beyond the nursing field to complete the degree.

“Lots of programs across the country have this program, and we wanted to add in the healthcare element,” Fast said. “Sometimes, nurses are the best prepared for it, as they take on that primary response in disaster situations. We have students enrolled who are business majors, who want to work for the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] or who want to do medical missions. The nursing department is just the umbrella of the degree program.”

With the program starting this fall, students have the opportunity to learn more about the major in introductory courses taught by professionals with experience in disaster management.

“I teach with Dr. Brenda Jones in these intro classes,” Fast said. “We…have three certifications from FEMA, Incident Command Systems, Community Emergency Response Team and National Incident Management System. Even if these students just take our intro class, they can walk away with how to respond to a disaster in their community.”

Jones adds to this credibility, as she brings 20 years of leadership in a medical mission team and a National Healthcare and Disaster Professional certification to the program. Additionally, Jones has run mass casualty incident drills on campus for two years, which she says will tie in with the new major.

The professors plan to use this combination of lectures and hands-on teaching to prepare students to go into the field and use their degrees effectively. This major caters to students seeking a variety of different career paths, but regardless of students’ post-graduation pursuits, Fast wants graduates to go out and make a difference.

“I hope students go out and make amazing contributions to the world,” Fast said. “I told the students on the first day: ‘You guys are going to do big things.’ This is not for students who want to stay in an office, but for those who want to go continue the mission of Lee.”

For students like freshman Michaela Morris, the new program is what attracted her to Lee. She said this major provides an avenue for helping to mend the damage caused by major disasters—something that has impassioned her since fifth grade.

“I wanted to be a part of a disaster team, but I also wanted a four-year degree,” Morris said. “I settled to do public health and was set on going to Liberty University. I prayed for God to lead me to the right path, and I got an email from Lee that they added this new major.”

This major will give students with a passion for helping others the opportunity to grow and train over the next four years, preparing them for a future of restorative action.

“I have a lot of empathy, and people are very vulnerable in times of disaster. I want to help people take back a dignified life that everyone is entitled to,” Morris said. “I hope that, [in four years,] I have a lot of opportunities to go abroad and use what I have done in class in the real world.”

For more information about the Disaster and Healthcare Mission Management degree, contact Jacob Fast at or Brenda Jones at

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