Professional Development and Education

Travel Health Nursing- Education Fact Sheet

Nurses have entered travel health from a variety of different nursing specialties, including occupational health, college health, ambulatory care, military health, pediatrics and others. Since the 1980's, nurses have been looking for books, conferences, professional articles, and courses to advance their knowledge and skill in this specialty.

Education in Travel Health as a specialty is unavailable at academic nursing centers in the United States.and Canada Until such programs are developed, travel health nurses continue to be largely self-taught in this field. There are no national, state or provincial certifications needed to provide travel health nursing services. Nurses with every recognized professional credential - LPN, RN, NP, CNS - work in this specialty in accordance with their respective state or provincial legislation.

A number of opportunities exist in the U.S.and in Canada for nurses to gain knowledge and expertise in travel health care. Here are some of the most recognized avenues that new and more seasoned nursing professionals utilize to advance their education and training in this specialty:

  1. Regularly check the ATHNA website for education, news and links to important resources for travel health nurses.
  2. Regularly check the websites of the CDC www.cdc.gov/travel, PHAC at www.travelhealth.gc.ca, the Immunization Action Coalition www.immunize.org, and Immunize Canada at www.immunize.ca for updates and essential information on travel health and immunizations.
  3. Subscribe to Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Review (MMWR at www.cdc.gov/mmwr and Canada Communicable Disease Report to receive email updates (CCDR) at www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/ccdr-rmtc/maillist-eng.php
  4. Visit the website (www.istm.org) and consider joining the International Society of Travel Medicine. The ISTM offers a variety of benefits to members including: the Journal of Travel Medicine, Expert Opinions, announcements of conferences and an active on-line listserve forum for discussion of travel medicine clinical and other issues. ISTM also offers the exam for a Certificate in Travel Health®/CTH.® The ISTM has many nurse members from the US, Canada and other countries.
  5. Participate in one of the growing number of travel medicine conferences offered in the United States, Canada and abroad. Verify www.istm.org; www.astmh.org; www.athna.org. Note that other nursing specialty nursing organizations such as The American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN) and the American College Health Association (ACHA) now include ongoing education in travel health care as part of their conferences, journals and websites.
  6. Start or join a local travel health nursing network - see Travel Health Nursing Fact Sheet
  7. Read the professional literature. For suggestions for your professional development reading list - see Pre-Travel Resource Center on this website.
  8. Read the lay literature. There are wonderful books and articles that address the challenges of international travel. Gina Kolata's Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic is but one example.
  9. Travel and work internationally to gain a better understand of health and safety risks - and prevention measures - around the world.
  10. Enroll in nursing and public health courses such as epidemiology, statistics, global health, tropical diseases, health promotion, nursing research, surveillance of international injury and illness, etc.
  11. Participate in relevant research projects such as vaccine clinical trials, self-care management research, surveillance of international injury and illness, etc