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Switch to Holistic Care Boosts Irvine Doctor’s Integrative Medicine Practice

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Dr. Karen Sun, founder of the Integrative Wellness Center in Irvine, California, followed conventional medicine for the first two decades of her career, then made a change in her approach 15 years ago that improved her business as well as her personal health.

Karen Sun, M.D., founder of the Integrative Wellness Center in Irvine, CA

Dr. Sun was born in Taiwan and attended medical school there before moving to the United States at age 26 to earn a master’s degree in public health at the University of Illinois. She moved to Southern California in the mid-1980s for a fellowship at the University of California, Irvine, and started her private practice in 1986.

“For many years initially, I was practicing conventional medicine the way I was taught, but I thought it had some major downfalls because we would use medication and surgery to treat the symptoms and not the root cause,” she says. “Being an internist, I was seeing a lot of older patients and they would take a lot of medicine but not get better and instead get worse over time.”

When she reached menopause 15 years ago, Dr. Sun was introduced to bioidentical hormone therapy and found that helped her more than medication.

“That, combined with lifestyle changes, helped me regain my energy and feel much better,” she says. “From there, I started to practice holistic medicine on my patients. I take care of not just their body but their mind and spirit. With integrative holistic medicine, we look at ways to improve their diet and lifestyle, and use nutritional supplements rather than medication.”

At the same time, she decided to stop taking insurance.

“I was burned out by the control of the insurance industry,” she says. “The insurance companies do not value the time you spend with patients. They would rather pay for procedures instead of time.”

Her Integrative Wellness Center has grown since she changed to integrative, holistic approaches, serving more patients as well as bringing in more revenue.

Dr. Sun recently hired a nurse practitioner to help care for patients at the Integrative Wellness Center and has cut back her own office hours. She has another four employees who help manage the office.

She is involved in philanthropic work, donating to the Doctors Without Borders, Habitat for Humanity, and the Sierra Club, as well as being part of the Impact Giving women’s collective giving organization.

“I’m in very good health because I’ve been studying functional medicine and it can have an anti-aging effect,” she says. “I cut my working hours because I want to spend more time traveling and enjoying life. I’ve also been interested in doing more volunteer work, whether it’s in countries overseas or with the Sierra Club to support the environment.”

Dr. Sun has been a Union Bank client since 1997, holding her business operating accounts with the bank as well as a line of credit, commercial real estate loan, and property holding account for her office building. Her banker is Ravi Mehta.

With Union Bank always able to care for her business banking needs, Dr. Sun says she has enjoyed the service she has received from the bank over the past 25 years and that has made her a loyal client.

“I’ve always felt very welcome when I would go to the branch and everyone there knew me,” she says. “I have no reason to change when things are going well.”

 

Written by Erik Battenberg