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Dr. Sam Ahn

Dr. Sam Ahn, M.D. is an allergist at North Bay Allergy and Asthma Association.

J.L. Sousa, Register

Dr. Sam Ahn, M.D., said growing up in the New York City area is what originally lead him to consider a medical career.

In such a huge city, “You witness a lot of inequality, whether it’s gender, race, wealth, education, etc.,” he said. “Something is not right when some people have so much and others have so little.”

“I knew early on that I wanted to do something in life where I can help people. In college, I realized that medicine was the best way for me to do that.”

Ahn, 41, has been a doctor for 13 years.

He joined North Bay Allergy and Asthma Associates in Napa this year.

1. What was your first job?

I took a year off from medical school because I had the opportunity to work with the Harvard AIDS Institute as a research assistant.

I lived in Botswana, in Sub-Saharan Africa, for the year and it was eye opening in so many ways.

2. What job would you like to try/not try?

Try: Anthony Bourdain of No Reservations. I would love to travel the world and try exotic food.

Not try: Probably a guard at Buckingham Palace. There’s no way I can stand completely still all day long.

3. What is the biggest challenge the medical industry has faced?

I think the biggest challenge for a lot of physicians in any field is that they can’t practice as freely as they’d like. A lot of medications are not covered well or at all by insurance companies. In addition, because there is such a fear of litigation, physicians may not want to take any risks that may actually benefit the patient.

4. If you could change one thing about the medical industry what would it be?

That’s an easy one, universal healthcare. No one should ever be denied healthcare simply on the grounds that they cannot afford it.

5. What are the most common problems your patients need help with?

Seasonal allergies and asthma for sure are the top two. And then food allergies are the third. The fourth is chronic hives.

6. What are the most common food allergies?

Definitely nuts and shellfish. And dairy is very common as well.

7. What’s on your to-do list?

See the Northern Lights, take a cruise around the world, volunteer in a free clinic locally and abroad, watch my son grow up.

8. What is one thing you hope to accomplish in your lifetime that you haven’t yet?

Set up a foundation that helps both animals and children pay for procedures or treatments that will prolong life.

9. What was your childhood ambition?

Early childhood: fighter pilot thanks to “Top Gun.”

Later childhood: member of a boy band thanks to Backstreet Boys.

I’d still consider the latter.

10. If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?

On a deserted beach with my family and about 40 rescue dogs. I’m a huge dog lover. There’s so many dogs out there that need a loving family.

I have three dogs and they are all rescue dogs.

North Bay Allergy and Asthma Associates is located at 1100 Pear Tree Lane.


Business Editor

Jennifer Huffman is the business editor and a general assignment reporter for the Napa Valley Register. I cover a wide variety of topics for the newspaper. I've been with the Register since 2005.