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.

U.S. Nursing Responds to African-American Anguish

During all the months of this COVID19 pandemic, nurses have been at the forefront of the response; now they are speaking out for social justice and equality as our country faces yet another crisis. This month ATHNA shares two important messages with its members and travel health nurses everywhere.

The first is a letter written by the current Dean of the Columbia University School of Nursing, Lorraine Frazier, RN, PhD, FAAN to a member of our Board who is a Columbia alum:

"Nursing is, at its core, about caring. It's about social justice and health equity. I felt compelled to share the following message with all of Columbia Nursing's students, faculty and staff -- and want to share this now with you, a valued member of the Columbia Nursing community, as well.

It is inherent in nurses, no matter the color of our skin, to be outraged about the injustice, pain, and anguish that African American communities have experienced and are experiencing. Our country has for far too long been torn apart by racism—in its overt and violent forms as well as, just as surely and insidiously, in its subtle and unintended forms.

The senseless killings of unarmed African Americans including George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor must end. It is long past time to redress our society's enormous, systemic wrongs toward people of color. We must ensure that heinous acts like the one last week never occur again.

In addition, to have such an act occur in the midst of a pandemic that is taking a disproportionate toll on communities of color in this country—to have the insults compound each other—makes the accumulated injuries nearly unbearable. Racism is a public health threat that we must and can counter at every opportunity.

All of you receiving this message have chosen nursing—or the support of nursing—as your life's work. It thus falls to each and every one of us to help heal these injuries. To care. To treat every person with dignity and respect, no matter their race or ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, age, sexual orientation or gender identity, mental health, or cognitive, sensory, or physical disabilities. Everyone. Without fail.

I pledge that Columbia Nursing, as an institution and as an aggregation of individuals, will continue to stand definitively and vociferously against slights and insults large and small toward people of color. And we will do our very best to push society at large toward doing better than it has done.

As nurses, we can do nothing less."

The second was a press release by the President of the American Nurses Association: ANA President Condemns Racism, Brutality and Senseless Violence Against Black Communities

June 1st 2020
SILVER SPRING, MD - The following statement is attributable to American Nurses Association (ANA) President Ernest J. Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN:

"As a nation, we have witnessed yet again an act of incomprehensible racism and police brutality, leading to the death of an unarmed black man, George Floyd. This follows other recent unjustified killings of black men and women, such as Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor to name a few.

Protests have erupted in cities across the country and the world in response to a persistent pattern of racism in our society that creates an environment where such killings occur. Justice is slow and actions to ensure real change are lacking.

As a black man and registered nurse, I am appalled by senseless acts of violence, injustice, and systemic racism and discrimination. Even I have not been exempt from negative experiences with racism and discrimination. The Code of Ethics obligates nurses to be allies and to advocate and speak up against racism, discrimination and injustice. This is non-negotiable.

Racism is a longstanding public health crisis that impacts both mental and physical health. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this crisis and added to the stress in the black community, which is experiencing higher rates of infection and deaths.

At this critical time in our nation, nurses have a responsibility to use our voices to call for change. To remain silent is to be complicit. I call on you to educate yourself and then use your trusted voice and influence to educate others about the systemic injustices that have caused the riots and protests being covered in the news. The pursuit of justice requires us all to listen and engage in dialogue with others. Leaders must come together at the local, state, and national level and commit to sustainable efforts to address racism and discrimination, police brutality, and basic human rights. We must hold ourselves and our leaders accountable to committing to reforms and action.

I have a deeper moral vision for society, one in which we have a true awareness about the inequities in our country which remain the most important moral challenge of the 21st century. This pivotal moment calls for each of us to ask ourselves which side of history we want to be on and the legacy we will pass on to future generations."

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 Update-June 2020

As travel health nurses, we are living through incredibly turbulent times. Whether you are working on the front lines as an essential worker, working from home and juggling family and work responsibilities, or facing unemployment and the inherent stress incurred by the loss of financial security, it is important to be kind to yourselves. Take the time for self-care. Nurses are notorious for caring for others and not paying attention to their own needs. During this pandemic, remember to eat healthy foods, exercise, maintain a sleep schedule, connect with friends socially (by phone or Zoom calls), and find ways to reduce stress (mindfulness, yoga, meditation, breathwork, music, dancing, gratitude journal, go out in nature, watch a funny movie, knitting, reading...you get the idea)! We all look forward to the time when this pandemic ends...

*And if these tools are not helping and you are experiencing emotional distress call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.

As the pandemic continues, and although ATHNA officially remains in moratorium, the Executive Committee has continued to pursue several important projects and initiatives.

  • Most importantly, the ATHNA Bylaws are undergoing revision to meet changes in the NY State incorporation regulations, the recent significant growth in ATHNA membership, and expanding administrative responsibilities. Director Elaine Rosenblatt's GoTeam started the complex process last year and now the Executive Committee is contributing to the final version. The Annual Meeting for the ATHNA Board of Directors is scheduled for June 30. At that time, a draft of the revised Bylaws will be presented to the Board of Directors for their consideration over the summer. A formal vote on the revised final document is anticipated for September.
  • The 2020 "Virtual NED" is under development. Starting in July, members will be able to access webinars via Zoom and earn free CE credits. We are excited to have Lynette Johnson, MSN, RN, ACRN, Nurse Clinician in Infectious Disease and International Health at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center present the first program.
  • ATHNA is exploring an improved, automated method for member registration using Constant Contact. Full details will be announced early in the fall. Thanks to Director Jackie Mier for her research and recommendations for this important project.
  • The Executive Committee encourages all ATHNA members to read and adopt the new ATHNA Social Media and Communications Guidelines approved in March 2020 by the Board of Directors. This document provides our members with guidelines to engage social media both professionally and personally in a positive, inclusive and respectful manner. We sincerely thank Director Lori Barker for initiating and developing this valuable document.

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 NED.

In July, ATHNA will start rolling out these webinars developed by members and invited speakers.

  • The first will be a program on "Medical Tourism" that broadens our understanding of this more than $30 billion industry worldwide.
  • 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 Contact Comment messages will go out as each webinar becomes available through our website.

Only ATHNA members have access to NED programming, so if you are not a member and wish to receive notices about our programs, please join ATHNA today. Membership is free.

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

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...

COVID19 vs SARS: How Similar? How Different?

Every few weeks we are updating the COVID19 resources that you can access at the top of the homepage. These are selected by ATHNA experts for relevance to travel health nursing, for the most part. For the last two months we also have posted on our website a slide set on the Spanish Flu. As you know, it is an event that everyone has been discussing in light of the current pandemic.

Recently there has been more discussion about the SARS pandemic in 2003 and this current one. In particular, people are asking about differences between the two viruses, the role of different social and demographic factors, and what lessons might be learned by comparing the two. Lancet printed an article in May that does just that, "Can We Contain the COVID-19 Outbreak with the Same Measures as for SARS?" The first author is Dr. Annelies Wilder-Smith, editor of JTM, former ISTM President, previously based in Singapore, and currently at the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Lancet is offering all its COVID19 content free access, so we share this interesting article with our members.

TravelByte #37 Your Job Options Are More Limited than They Should Be — Here's Why

Maybe when you hear the word "compact" you think about a small cosmetic case with a mirror in it. Hopefully, when you finish this, you'll think about something much more important, something that is already impacting your career opportunities: the nursing compacts....

Where in the World Is Our Traveler?

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, again shares her passion for world travel with her photograph of the huge carvings from ancient civilizations found throughout the massive maze of temples of Angkor Wat. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992, Angkor Wat ("City of Temples" in the Khmer language) is the #1 tourist attraction in Cambodia. It is also the world's largest religious site covering more than 400 acres and has been featured in many films including The Killing Fields and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Since 1850, the temples have been featured in the center of the national flag of Cambodia. Diane told us she loved visiting the site, but it was HOT! Travel health nurses will want to thoroughly prepare their travelers for the heat, humidity and crowds when tourism returns to Southeast Asia. Encourage them to get up very early and see the sun rise for an unforgettable travel memory

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.

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