Courses — 14 June 2013 at 4:58 pm

LSHTM Online Travel Medicine Course

Ellie Heath / Adventure Medic Editor

The online Travel Medicine course from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is a self-directed learning programme suitable for anyone wanting to explore the world of Travel Medicine.

Travel Medicine

More people travel today than ever before. Worldwide, approximately 900 million international journeys are undertaken each year. As airline networks rapidly expand and the cost of travel decreases, previously remote destinations are becoming more accessible to the average person. So, whether the threat be from microbes, climate, altitude, culture or behaviour, the health risks posed to the traveller are becoming more varied and complex. Travel medics face a constantly-evolving challenge.

When we think of ‘travel medicine’, exotic infectious diseases spring to mind:  Japanese encephalitis, yellow fever, typhoid – the list goes on.  It’s easy to think of travel clinics as a quick fix and that by vaccinating ourselves against these unfamiliar pathogens we will ensure a safe and healthy trip. In fact, infectious disease contributes less to the burden of morbidity and mortality in international travellers than one might think. According to the WHO, tourists are ten times more likely to die as a result of accidental injury than from an infectious disease.  Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in travellers over the age of 55.

There’s often a disparity between our perceived risks and our actual risks in a travel destination. We watch the news and worry about epidemics, natural disasters or terrorism, rather than the potential consequences of our existing health problems, or our behaviour when we’re away.

The travel medic must weigh up the risks involved in an itinerary, taking into account the traveller’s medical history, health beliefs and perceived risks. They must provide the appropriate vaccinations or prophylaxis, along with tailored advice, often in a brief consultation.

The Course

The LSHTM online Travel Medicine course is by no means fully comprehensive but it definitely provides a good overview of the length and breadth of travel medicine. It’s packed with practical resources and useful links for personal or professional use. It also provides food for thought on a number of other issues related to travel medicine including the social and ethical aspects of travel and migration. It is broken down into five modules that give an overview of the field.

Introduction / changing trends in travel and a discussion of the main contributors to morbidity and mortality in travellers and migrants

Operating a travel clinic / practical guidance in providing travel health services, as well as links to reliable, up to date resources for travel health advice

Communication skills in the travel health consultation / structured history taking relevant to travel medicine, risk assessment and communicating risk to travellers

Vaccines / vaccine immunology, requirements and practical administration

Malaria / pathology, epidemiology, prophylaxis and treatment of malaria in the traveller.

The course is available as an independent e-learning certificate or recommended as an introduction to the 5-day resident Travel Medicine course at LSHTM.

Apply anytime for four months unlimited access to the online e-learning modules. Bear in mind that it takes them a couple of weeks to process your application and issue you with login details. It’s about 25-30 hours of work in total, which you can work through at your leisure.

Anyone can apply and no prior experience is required. There are MCQs at the end of each module but no exam or formal assessment. On completion you are issued with a certificate.

Download the application form here. It costs £200 but there is a discount of £100 when in conjunction with the 4-day residential course in London (dates and fees for 2013 still TBA).

The Verdict

In general, I enjoyed the course. It kept my brain ticking over during a particularly uninspiring portion of Foundation medicine. I liked that I could dip in and out at my leisure, from wherever I was at the time. The links are good, and who doesn’t love a certificate? On the flip side, I found it a little repetitive at times and the interface could be a little frustrating to navigate. Most importantly, it doesn’t automatically save your work.