Travel Health Nursing Fact Sheet
As of 2020, Travel Health Nursing became an ANA recognized nursing specialty. Nursing professionals (LPNs, RNs, APRNs) provide travel health services in a wide variety of practice settings to domestic and international travelers during all phases of travel. CDC estimates that more than 25,000 nurses provide care to travelers in the United States. The specialty continues to evolve as more individuals, families, and groups travel and new therapeutics become available to help lower the risk for injury and illness during journeys. Nurses provide pre- and post-travel care in person and via virtual telehealth appointments.
Travel health nurses function as clinicians, educators, consultants, researchers and authors in hospitals, private travel health clinics, public health and community health offices, colleges and universities, the government, NGOs, and the military. Nurses have been involved in travel health since the 1980s. The US professional association for the specialty, ATHNA, was formed in the late 1990s and incorporated as a 501 c 3 non-profit professional organization in 2004.
The foundational text for the specialty, Travel Health Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice 2021, is available for purchase through ANA www.nursingworld.org/~4951d0/globalassets/catalog/book-toc/2021_travel-health-nursing_toc.pdf.
To date, there are no US nursing programs offering concentrations or degrees in this specialty, and nurses need to acquire the knowledge and skills of travel health care on their own. Short courses in the US and internationally are available (see Education Fact Sheet and Courses & Conferences on this website for current listings). At present there is also no separate certification in the United States for travel health nursing, although the American Travel Health Nurses Association is working on the development of a portfolio-based board certification akin to other ANCC and AAOHN specialty certifications.