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.

President's Message - April 2020

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!

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. This month we share four 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 Photos 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...
  • And the Chair of our ATHNA3000 membership Campaign, Jackie Mier, shares this message:
    "Mark it on your calendars, April 7, WHO World Health Day dedicated this year to Nurses and Midwives. www.who.int/news-room/campaigns/world-health-day/world-health-day-2020
    All my admiration goes out to all of you and all my nurse colleagues. Fun Fact: April 7 is also the year's biggest supermoon, the Pink Moon."

COVID19 Trial

As part of its mission, ATHNA is committed to supporting research in our specialty. Currently there is a call out for participants in a COVID19 treatment study. If you know of anyone who might qualify, here is the information we have:

Participate in a COVID Post-Exposure Prophylaxis Study: The University of Minnesota has launched a clinical trial https://med.umn.edu/news-events/covid-19-clinical-trial-launches-university-minnesota to see if the common medication hydroxychloroquine can prevent COVID-19 in those exposed to the virus, either as a healthcare worker or by living in the same house as someone who has COVID-19. They are looking for people who have been exposed within the last 3 days to someone with known COVID-19. Participants from United States of America are eligible to enroll and will receive study medicine shipped overnight. For more information about the trial or to enroll, contact covid19@umn.edu.

Imaging Future Travel

No one is traveling right now, but the travel industry is keeping busy with promotions for what has been called "aspirational travel." (My husband renamed it delusional travel but he is a half empty kind of guy even in normal times...) Ads on TV, articles in the press, postings on social media- all are asking where do you want to go when this pandemic ends? For example, here is a quote that came into my email box from Catalonia Hotels this morning:

"Now it's time to stay home, but we know the best journeys start from the couch; daydreaming, wandering with your mind to any place you want. Don't cancel your dreams, just move them on the calendar."

And to inspire those dreams of future travel, another famous hotel chain, Belmond*, sent out a pandemic "care package" filled with ideas for nourishing our souls during this stressful time. Included in the package are recommendations for 8 readings "matched to a sensational Belmond destination." As you shelter in place, see if you, as a travel health nurse, can name the country, city, or region for each of these suggestions:

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.

TravelByte #35 What? A Nurse on the Cover?

Recently, my sister came bebopping in and said, "Hey, did you know that Florence Nightingale is on the latest cover of Smithsonian? I did not but was extremely pleased to learn about it, as I couldn't recall a nurse being on the cover of a non-nursing publication in decades. The Defiance of Florence Nightingale by Joshua Hammer is a brief but important piece that emphasizes her groundbreaking work in statistics, data visualization, and its impact on public health"...

Coronavirus Vocabulary Crossword

Early in our years as a professional organization ATHNA had a newsletter in lieu of a website. A popular feature was the Crossword Puzzle. This month we revive that feature with the latest viral terminology...

Meet Christa Schmitz, MSN, RN, FNP-BC

Christa Schmitz is the Director of Education for Passport Health and is responsible for the training and education for all corporate US and UK clinics. She has 20 years of nursing experience; 16 years as a nurse practitioner. Christa has been practicing in the field of travel medicine for 4 years. She has been an ATHNA member for the last two years and earned an ISTM Certificate in Travel HealthTM. She has worked in various areas of travel medicine, which include working as an NP in a travel medicine clinic, managing nursing staff and clinic operations for Passport Health, and leading the International Health Services program for the Boeing company. I asked her to tell us a little bit more about herself....

Featured Photograph


ATHNA member Gail Rosselot recently traveled to Belize. While there she saw toucans, a Jaguar, howler monkeys, and manta rays, but as a travel health nurse she found this pharmacy sign especially interesting.

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

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