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Professor and Researcher SangNam Ahn, Ph.D., M.P.S.A. Joins Saint Louis University Health Management and Policy Department

The Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice has named SangNam Ahn, Ph.D., M.P.S.A. as an associate professor in the Department for Health Management and Policy.

Dr. Ahn joins Saint Louis University after nearly two decades of teaching, conducting research, and learning the health care management landscape through first hand experience.

Dr. SangNam Ahm
SangNam Ahn, Ph.D., M.P.S.A.

A series of difficult decisions have transformed Dr. Ahn into the healthcare profession he is today. 

His love for healthcare education was kickstarted through the U.S. Army as a KATUSA (Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army) soldier. 

After his service, Dr. Ahn worked as a medical representative, which he used as a springboard to furthering his education in health care in the United States. Since, Dr. Ahn earned his PhD in Health Services Research, and his MPSA in Public Service and Administration from Texas A&M University before most recently serving as a faculty member at the University of Memphis School of Public Health.

“I believe my career decisions have been always without regret since I learned to value all of my experiences while doing my best regardless of my situations and positions. Indeed, I did not realize how valuable my work experiences as a salesperson and a soldier in Korea are until I served diverse students and faculty in the U.S.,” he said.

In the Army, Dr. Ahn was equipped with the tools to save a life. Now, as a researcher and educator, Dr. Ahn is focused on making long-term changes to help extend life, and enhance quality of life through many avenues. 

Dr. Ahn explains that his current research interests reflect the personal experience of losing his father at a young age.

“I have always been curious to what extent earlier life experience could shape someone’s behaviors and determine health outcomes in later life.”

As a result, he has placed an emphasis on lasting health effects of childhood adversity, aging, obesity, chronic disease, and health promotion issues. Other research interests include, obesity and lifestyle risk factors, aging and long-term care policy, chronic disease self-management, and healthcare cost savings.

His areas of expertise include health equity; adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), aging and long-term care policy; obesity and lifestyle risk factors; health promotion; healthcare savings estimation through evidence-based programs; chronic disease self-management; doctor-patient interactions; food insecurity; and the Affordable Care Act.

Dr. Ahn has also authored one book, ‘How to Become a Professor in the United States: From a Poor International Graduate Student to a Tenured Professor (2018),’ contributed two book chapters and more than 75 research journal articles.

“Now, I am currently investigating the roles of chronic stress, which can be measured by allostatic load utilizing biomarkers rather than self-reported stress level as well as the roles of resilience factors such as social support and healthy lifestyles,” he said. “I believe my study can support the integration of biomedical and socio-behavioral aspects of research among vulnerable aging populations.”

Dr. Ahn also explains that as the health care management field changes following the Affordable Care Act and the COVID-19 pandemic, so do the needs of patients and providers.

He believes a successful healthcare administrator can ‘convert their organization into one that can make meaningful use of the collected information to improve patients’ health outcomes while preventing unnecessary hospitalizations or treatments.’ 

“We as educators should highlight the importance of creating proactive health care systems rather than relying on the current reactive health care systems model.”

College for Public Health and Social Justice

The Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice is the only academic unit of its kind, studying social, environmental and physical influences that together determine the health and well-being of people and communities. It also is the only accredited school or college of public health among nearly 250 Catholic institutions of higher education in the United States. Guided by a mission of social justice and focus on finding innovative and collaborative solutions for complex health problems, the college offers nationally recognized programs in public health and health administration.