Born in a small town in South Korea, Yihyun Kwon's father was an
oriental medicine practitioner. Kwon grew up absorbing much of his
father's knowledge. However, when he began his own medical career,
he chose a foundation in basic sciences. He earned both a
bachelor's degree in biology and a master's degree in microbiology
from Chung Ang University in Seoul. Afterwards, he studied diabetes
and cancer at the Yunsei University in Seoul and at the University
of Calgary in Canada, and worked in a research lab for eight
While in Canada, Dr. Kwon hurt his ankle and received chiropractic treatment. This prompted him to look into chiropractic medicine. "I realized that the study and practice of chiropractic and acupuncture could work very well together, like the completion of a puzzle," he says.
In 1998, he moved to Chicago and simultaneously studied for and received both a doctor of chiropractic degree from National University of Health Sciences as well as a master's degree in acupuncture and oriental medicine from Midwest College of Oriental Medicine in 2002. Afterwards, he worked for three years as a family practice resident at National University. Recently, Dr. Kwon completed his PhD in Oriental Medicine at Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Tianjin, China.
He says, "Personally, I'm very interested in integrating western and eastern medicine. This integrative approach is the first of two unique attributes that set NUHS' degree programs apart. Our students share certain classes with naturopathic medicine (ND) and chiropractic medicine (DC) students, such as diagnostic imaging and lab diagnosis, western botanical medicine, and nutrition classes.
"The fact is that when you are out there practicing as an acupuncturist or oriental medical practitioner, you will have to interact with DCs, NDs and MDs. If you have no access to them while you are in school and don't understand their perspective, you will be at a disadvantage," he says.
"The second unique attribute of our programs is our emphasis on clinic-based learning. Traditionally, Chinese medicine was mostly taught in a master/apprentice relationship. Our students observe and train in the clinic very early in the program so we can more closely simulate the benefits of that traditional learning environment. This is also why we keep a very low student to clinician ratio, so we can best duplicate that apprentice-type training."
Why does Dr. Kwon recommend NUHS over other acupuncture or oriental medical schools? "We have a very high educational standard. For example, we have the same amount of hours in western science as other acupuncture schools, but the level at which we study them is higher. We learn about radiology and MRI and how to look at films, what is normal and what is abnormal. While we who practice acupuncture and oriental medicine aren't expected to base a diagnosis on laboratory tests, our patients often bring in their medical records, and we have to be able to read and understand them," says Dr. Kwon.