Mission Statement

The travel health nursing professional, not to be mistaken for the "travel nurse," is an official ANA recognized nursing specialty. Travel health nursing is defined as " the specialized nursing practice that advances the well-being of all travelers, both domestic and international, in all phases/stages of travel and in all clinical settings." Travel health nurses provide travelers with pre-travel preparation, in transit support, and post travel evaluation and management as may be needed. By contrast, travel nurses move around the country and supplement staffing at various hospitals during times of peak capacity.

The American Travel Health Nurses Association (ATHNA) is the professional organization for travel health nurses in North America. ATHNA is committed to professional development, networking, research and advocacy in travel health nursing. We offer our members resources for travel health clinics, CE programs, a unique, regional conference day, monthly updates, regional contacts, and much more...

It is the mission of ATHNA to advance nurses engaged in the care of all travelers through professional development, evidence-based practice and advocacy.

A Voice to Lead

On the occasion of the 2020 Celebration of
International Nurses Day
May 12
ATHNA recognizes the dedication and contributions of Travel Health Nurses

Nurses Week 2020 is extra special as the whole year is designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife in honor of the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale's birth. During this time of COVID19 crisis, the role and value of nurses has perhaps never been more evident. The American Travel Health Nurses Association joins with the International Council of Nurses to voice its appreciation and support for the more than 20 million nurses across the world that are making an important difference-in many ways and every day.

As the newest nursing specialty in the United States, travel health nurses are on the forefront of efforts to promote and achieve global health and wellness.

Announcement About Membership Dues

These are unprecedented, uncharted times in our country and we know many travel health nurses are struggling right now- professionally, personally or both. We all look forward to a time when world travel resumes and we can again have a myriad of opportunities to support the health and safety of our travelers. In consideration of the COVID19 crisis and its impact on our members, the Board of Directors of the American Travel Health Nurses Association is extending its offer of free membership through the end of 2020. Current members are not required to re-register and new members are most welcome... as we stay together by standing apart.

President's Message

This is a crucial time in ATHNA's history and I look forward to sharing my experience and love of travel health to make a difference.The last time I was president of ATHNA, in 2009, we became an organization with members. Prior to that, ATHNA consisted of a Board of Directors and a website. For those of you who were in practice in 2009, I'm sure you remember that this was the year of the pandemic H1N1 influenza. I guess it was my destiny to step in as interim president during our next global pandemic known as COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has abruptly and dramatically altered our lives here in the United States and throughout the world. As many of you are working tirelessly on the COVID-19 response, I wanted to inform you that ATHNA will continue to support you in many ways:

  • Maintain a page on our website for COVID-19 resources
  • Publish Travel Health Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice, which will provide the basis for quality professional practice
  • Add a new website section dedicated to providing support for members
  • Development of a program to offer free CE as a substitute for our popular annual NED (Networking, Education & Development conference)

2019-20 goals:

  1. ANA recognition of the specialty
  2. Begin to explore options for a US certification for travel health nurses similar to other recognized US nursing certifications
  3. Achieve 3000 members, exceeding 10% of the estimated 25,000 nurses who practice in this specialty

We have already achieved our largest goal with ANA's recognition of Travel Health Nursing as a specialty! We will now move onto the next 2 goals. I am pleased to report that as of April 1, ATHNA has 2,222 members.

I am proud to be counted as a member of this noble profession of nursing. The World Health Organization designated 2020 as "The Year of the Nurse and Midwife" in honor of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale. April 7, 2020 is World Health Day, and a time to celebrate the role that nurses and midwives play under normal circumstances, in keeping the world healthy. During these unprecedented times, I love the WHO quote: "Quite simply, without nurses, there would be no response".

Stay safe and be well!

NED 2020

Social distancing will, of necessity, keep us apart this year for our annual
NED: Networking, Education and Development Day

The opportunity to meet each summer in members' homes around the country has been a unique and unifying element of ATHNA since 2015. Unfortunately, COVID19 prevents those gatherings this coming summer.

In the meantime, however, the tradition of free continuing education credits as a benefit of ATHNA membership will continue.

Social distancing will, of necessity, keep us apart this year for our annual

In mid June, ATHNA will start rolling out four webinars developed by our members.

  • The first will feature "Lessons from Contagion" with a focus on concepts and the terminology of outbreaks.
  • The second, "Telehealth: Reach Out and Protect Someone." will provide an introduction to telehealth services for travel health nurses.
  • The third will add to your understanding of critical considerations when "Preparing a Traveler for High Altitude."
  • And the fourth will be a conversation about pediatric pre- travel counseling with a recognized expert in this field.

Constant Comment messages will go out as each webinar becomes available through our website.

We all look forward to 2021 in the hope that testing, treatments and perhaps even a vaccine will enable us to again come together.

Supporting Each Other

Starting this month, ATHNA will focus its website on the pandemic, both the scientific and clinical aspects, but also how we as travel health nurses can live through this unprecedented time. We invite you to share the many ways you and your loved ones are coping as you shelter in place or serve long hours in the front lines of this health emergency. Every Monday starting April 6 we will add some new content to this section of the website. Please send your stories, reflections, and inspirations to info@athna.org.

  • Diane McHugh, ATHNA Secretary, loves to travel and has beautiful photographs to show for it. Starting this month we will share some of her favorites. Perhaps these lovely images will add a few destinations to your own bucket list. You will find them in our new feature Featured Photograph on this homepage.
  • Many of us are turning to music and comedy and a combination of both as a source of stress relief. If you have not already discovered The Holderness Family and their song parodies why not start with "I Want to Know What Day It Is" a COVID19 parody of the song by Foreigner? www.youtube.com/watch?v=MH4TVYT1OYQ and the handwashing songs are pretty terrific, too.
  • And we are bringing back a popular feature of our 1990's newsletter- the health related Crossword Puzzle. Great way to keep up with the changing vocabulary of this pandemic.
  • Remember many mental health professionals are donating their time and expertise to provide counseling via telehealth. Don't hesitate to reach out for this free service, if needed...

Food Alergy Research and Education

May has been designated as Food Allergy Awareness Month, and this year Food Allergy Awareness Week (May 10 – May 16, 2020) will shed light on the public health crisis that affects more than 32 million Americans. As travel health nurses (THNs) we know that food allergies can present serious challenges to our travelers. An organization such as FARE www.fare.org can be a valuable resource when counseling our patients.

SueAnn McDevitt, longtime ATHNA member and ATHNA Fellow, is co-author of the "Highly Allergic Traveler" section in the 2020 CDC "yellow book," Health Information for International Travel. That resource includes key assessment questions and important health education topics to help THNs prepare travelers at risk for a severe allergic reaction.

To learn more about food allergy prevention, diagnosis, treatment and how individuals with food allergies cope, FARE is offering a week of special educational activities:

  • Monday, May 11, 2020: "Help Reduce the Risk in Infants" Facebook Live with Dr. Ruchi Gupta
  • Tuesday, May 12, 2020: FARE's first Virtual Symposium: "Managing Food Allergies during COVID-19"
  • Wednesday, May 13, 2020: FARE's Inaugural Top 9-Free Meal Swap Challenge in honor of Anaphylaxis Awareness Day
  • Thursday, May 14, 2020: "Food Allergy 101: A Crash Course for the Newly Diagnosed"
  • Friday, May 15, 2020: A preview for a food allergy primer from the power mom duo Dr. Kari Nadeau and philanthropist Sloan Barnett
  • Wednesday, May 20, 2020: The FASTER Act (H.R. 2117, S.3451): An Update from Washington with special guest, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-6)

Book Review: Spillover or When Diseases Jump from Animals to Humans

I first read Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen in 2012, not long after SARS. At the time I found it enlightening and relevant for my traveling patients. Last week I reread this comprehensive and engaging review of zoonotic diseases for my own benefit. I found it prescient and critical to our understanding of the current pandemic. In each chapter, this award-winning author recounts the beginnings for many well –known, as well as other lesser known, outbreaks including Lyme disease, HIV, Ebola, MERS, Nipah and SIV. Quammen provides clear and compelling explanations for pandemic basics, including the concept of spillover, why RNA viruses can mutate so rapidly, how deforestation and global population density support new human diseases, and the important role of ecology and evolution in pathogen development.

TravelByte #36: Six Feet Never Mattered So Much

Hard to imagine that it was only a month ago that the first cases of COVID19 started to strike home here in the U.S. Those of us in travel health were still advising our travelers about their future itineraries, counseling companies about "business essential" travel, and working with administrators coordinating spring study abroad programming...

Spanish Flu 1918-19 & COVID19: Two Pandemics Compared

One hundred years ago America experienced a devastating pandemic just as WWI came to an end. Currently there is a lot of talk about the Spanish Flu, comparing its impact with our novel coronavirus global health emergency. This month's TravelByte on Social Distancing references that 1918-19 worldwide event as evidence that social distancing has benefit. ATHNA has received permission from the author to share an excellent 25 minute history lecture on our website. Fascinating details. Patient zero was in Kansas!

About the Author: Professor Don Schwartz received a Ph.D. in Modern European and American History from New York University and was a member of the history faculty at California State University from 1987-2010. His specialized fields include diplomatic history and The Holocaust. Since his retirement he has lectured at Panasastra University in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and at Jiaotong University in Shanghai. He currently gives lectures to community groups in southern California.

Where in the World Is Our Traveler? (Answers Next Month)

Geography is an ongoing challenge in the field of travel medicine. Try this puzzle to see if you know where your travelers may be heading after the COVID19 crisis ends.

Featured Photograph


Diane McHugh, ATHNA Secretary, has a passion for travel health and for world travel. We will be featuring some of her photos from journeys around the planet for the next few months. Diane had logged many miles before COVID19 struck! We will start our global photographic tour in the Indian subcontinent where decorating elephants has been commonplace- and an art- for centuries. Elephants hold a special place in Indian history and culture.

Do you have a travel photo to share? In this new website feature, we'll post member favorites each month. Send your photographs to info@ATHNA.org.

Message from the ATHNA Fellows: The Need for Change, NOW

Dear Members,

As travel health nurses, we just couldn't let another day pass without speaking out on two "big elephants in the room" as the COVID19 pandemic continues to infect millions around the globe.

The first concerns the negative remarks made regarding health care workers in a federal briefing on Sunday, March 29. Implying that health care workers are squandering or perhaps even stealing personal protective equipment is unconscionable given the dangerous conditions under which thousands are working and struggling to save lives. This from a government that was aware of the seriousness of this pandemic months ago, as many of us in travel health already were, and yet not only failed to take steps to mitigate the effects of this virus early, but continued to lie to the public about what was known, putting both health care workers and patients at risk unnecessarily- many of whom will die as a result.

The second is the move by organizations to silence health care workers regarding the number of cases, lack of personal protective equipment or ventilators, illness among staff, etc. Clinicians who have posted to such sites as #GETMEPPE have been told to remove their postings or risk losing their jobs. Some have experienced this even when communicating only within their own institutions under the guise of not "creating panic" or "overwhelming staff" with messages. This is an unprecedented time in recent history and the voices of people on the front lines need to be heard.

The American College of Physicians issued this statement on April 1 in support of speaking out,

"...ACP is concerned by reports that some physicians who have spoken out about a lack of PPE have been dismissed from employment or otherwise disciplined. Physicians who have concerns about conditions and practices related to care of COVID-19 patients should have the right to speak up within their workplaces and more broadly without fear of retaliation to achieve needed change for the health and safety of physicians and patients."

Nursing organizations have also spoken out.

These are challenging times to be sure, but we must continue to advocate for patients and colleagues. We must hold government and other institutions accountable and work to prevent disasters like this in the future. We nurses should continue to speak out - and advocate for change.

And here's the type of change the ATHNA Fellows believe we should embrace. We refer you to the fabulous editorial by Harvey Fineberg MD, PhD in the New England Journal of Medicine, "Ten Weeks to Crush the Curve" https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMe2007263. His message contains an actual six- step plan to defeat the coronavirus by June 6. It calls for effective leadership both at the federal and state level to help get this crisis under control. We should not waste any more time criticizing health care workers or trying to silence them. We should execute a cogent, concise plan that is based on what we know works, before we waste any more precious time.

The Fellows of the American Travel Health Nurses Association
April 8, 2020

ANA Disturbed by Reports of Retaliation Against Nurses for Raising Concerns About COVID-19 Safety

Apr 9th 2020

SILVER SPRING, MD -The American Nurses Association (ANA) is disturbed about reports of employers retaliating against nurses and other health care workers for raising legitimate concerns about their personal safety while caring for patients with COVID-19. Reports of intimidation, firing, ostracizing and more are unacceptable.

Institutional support for nurses is a non-negotiable necessity in the workplace. Ongoing, transparent and effective communication between nurses and employers about nurses' ability to provide care safely to patients is essential. Nurses' voices must be heard and valued at all levels of a health care organization.

ANA expressed concerns to the U.S. Department of Labor and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). We appreciate OSHA's efforts to remind employers that retaliation against health care workers is illegal. Nurses who are experiencing acts of retaliation from their employer are urged to file a whistleblower complaint online with OSHA or call 1-800-321-OSHA. We urge OSHA to act quickly to address whistleblower complaints related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nurses must not be retaliated against for raising their concerns and speaking out. ANA condemns employers that retaliate against nurses for advocating on behalf of themselves and their patients.

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