Improving the Quality of Travel Medicine Through Education & Training

CDC Yellow Book 2024


Author(s): Suraj Arshanapally, Jessica Allen Tchoukalov

Individuals planning international travel benefit from a pretravel visit dedicated to health-related travel recommendations. Such consultations with clinicians can help travelers remain healthy during and after travel.

Recent outbreaks of infectious diseases (e.g., Zika, coronavirus disease 2019 [COVID-19]) demonstrate the role of international travel in the geographic spread of disease. These outbreaks highlight the need to equip more clinicians with travel medicine training to ensure they can properly educate and advise travelers and prevent travel-related disease spread.

Travel Medicine Education & Training

The pretravel consultation is most effective when the clinician has experience and training related to travel medicine and can provide travelers with up-to-date information and guidance. In the United States, many types of health care professionals, ranging from infectious disease specialists to family medicine practitioners, offer travel medicine care and counseling. Travel medicine professional organizations offer training opportunities and certification programs for clinicians. This training is available via in-person courses or e-learning (e.g., webinars, workshops, online courses). Outlined below are several organizations that provide travel medicine-related trainings and education.

Travel Medicine-Related Professional Organizations

Aerospace Medical Association

The Aerospace Medical Association (AsMA) represents professionals in the fields of aviation, space, and environmental medicine who take care of air and space travelers. AsMA publishes the journal Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine; hosts an annual scientific meeting; and offers continuing medical education and certification in aerospace medicine–related topics.

American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

Formed in 1951 through the merger of predecessor organizations dating back to 1903, the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) has a subsection, the American Committee on Clinical Tropical Medicine and Travelers’ Health, that focuses exclusively on tropical and travel medicine. ASTMH publishes The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, a peer-reviewed scientific journal; hosts the ASTMH annual meeting; hosts an electronic distribution list; and maintains a tropical and travel medicine consultant directory.

In addition, ASTMH offers the CTropMed examination, which leads to a Certificate of Knowledge in Clinical Tropical Medicine and Travelers’ Health. CTropMed is open to clinicians with a current professional health care license who have passed an ASTMH-approved tropical medicine diploma course or who have sufficient tropical medicine experience. ASTMH also hosts an annual intensive update course in clinical tropical medicine and travelers’ health, designed to prepare clinicians planning to take the CTropMed examination.

Infectious Diseases Society of America

The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) is the largest organization representing infectious disease clinicians in the United States. IDSA has many active members with expertise in tropical and travel medicine. In 2006, IDSA published evidence-based guidelines on the practice of travel medicine in the United States. IDSA publishes travel-related research in 3 journals: The Journal of Infectious Diseases, Clinical Infectious Diseases, and Open Forum Infectious Diseases. IDSA also co-sponsors the annual IDWeek meeting and the online Emerging Infections Network (EIN), a provider-based sentinel network to assist public health authorities with emerging infectious disease surveillance.

International Society for Infectious Diseases

The International Society for Infectious Diseases (ISID) was organized in 1986 and has approximately 80,000 members in 201 countries. Like IDSA, ISID does not specifically focus on travel medicine. However, its international reach, particularly in low-resource countries, makes travel medicine an important topic in ISID and makes ISID a valuable source of information for infectious diseases clinicians in many overseas travel destinations.

ISID publishes the International Journal of Infectious Diseases and hosts the biennial International Congress on Infectious Diseases and the International Meeting on Emerging Diseases and Surveillance. In addition, ISID hosts the Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases (ProMED)—an open-source electronic system for reporting emerging infectious diseases and toxins, including outbreaks— and the EpiCore global outbreak surveillance system.

International Society of Travel Medicine

The International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM) is a multinational organization dedicated to promoting healthy, safe, and responsible travel and movement of all people crossing borders by facilitating advancement of epidemiologic surveillance and research, education, and service in travel and migration medicine. ISTM was founded in 1991 and has over 4,000 members worldwide. ISTM publishes the peer-reviewed Journal of Travel Medicine and hosts the TravelMed listserv, where members share information. ISTM also maintains a directory of domestic and international travel medicine clinics affiliated with ISTM members in 90 countries. ISTM hosts committees that address pressing issues in travel medicine (e.g., digital communications and publications); special interest and professional groups, including groups for travel medicine nurses and travel medicine pharmacists; the biennial Conference of the International Society of Travel Medicine; and annual regional sub-meetings.

In addition, ISTM provides an online learning curriculum and offers the Certificate in Travel Health (CTH) Examination; passing the examination is one of several required elements for health care professionals (including physicians, nurses, and pharmacists) who provide travel health advice and who participate regularly in travel medicine professional development to receive ISTM certification. ISTM also provides an annual intensive update course in travelers’ health designed to prepare clinicians planning to take the CTH exam.

Wilderness Medical Society

Organized in 1983, the Wilderness Medical Society (WMS) focuses on adventure travel, including wilderness travel and diving. WMS publishes the journal Wilderness and Environmental Medicine, and has developed practice guidelines for emergency care in wilderness settings. WMS hosts annual meetings, a world congress, and subspecialty meetings. In addition, WMS offers courses leading to certification in advanced wilderness life support and courses leading to the Diploma in Mountain Medicine (DiMM). WMS also offers a wilderness medical curriculum that, when successfully completed, qualifies members for fellowship in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine.

In addition to the above-mentioned organizations, the World Health Organization maintains a list of regional and national societies of travel medicine on its website.

The following authors contributed to the previous version of this chapter: Keun Lee, Stephen M. Ostroff

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