Melissa M. Ahern, Ph.D.

Ph.D., Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida

Master of Business Administration, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida

Dr. Melissa Ahern is also adjunct professor in the Department of Community Medicine, School of Medicine, West Virginia University.

Ahern’s teaching focuses on the economics of health systems, including pharmacy systems, and the associated management and/or policy imperatives. Her teaching has recently incorporated a focus on long-range strategic planning for health and health care in the context of rising energy costs. This focus empowers students to understand and anticipate likely future economic scenarios and cost-effective responses designed to maintain and improve population health in pharmaceutical and other health delivery settings. 

Ahern’s interest in healthy communities has resulted in 45 peer-reviewed published studies related to community public health, health policy and administration, and social capital. Her current pharmaceutical research focuses on comparing health outcomes for chronic pain patients who receive care from pharmacist-led pain-management teams vs. care-as-usual. Other current research focuses on the association between mountaintop coal mining (MTM) and the health of residents of nearby communities, with eight associated published manuscripts. These publications represent the first of such studies, and are published in top journals including the American Journal of Public Health, Environmental Research, Public Health Reports, and the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. In addition, Ahern’s research focuses on rural health issues including rural food security, and childhood asthma. Plans for future research include extending current research and examining challenges to health and health care systems in an era of rising energy costs.

Additional Information
Ahern’s focus on healthy communities led her to develop a certificate program in managed care designed for health care providers; and the Spokane Health Leaders Group. Both of these initiatives focused on identifying and implementing cost-effective integrative strategies for improving community health. Her work with the Health Leaders Group was honored by the Health Improvement Partnership. Ahern also developed a seminal regional conference on global oil depletion and potential economic impacts on health and health care, and presented a series of local and regional presentations regarding the relationship between net declining energy, the economy, and potential impacts on health and health care.

Ahern was nominated for a Faculty Excellence award in 2006.

Melissa Ahern

Associate Professor
Nutrition & Exercise Physiology

Office: HSB 215 B
P.O. Box 1495
Washington State University
Spokane, WA 99210-1495