Medical acupuncture is performed by a physician who may or may not be trained in acupuncture. In most states, Medical Doctors practicing acupuncture are only required to complete 200 hours of training, including both theory and practice. Some states still require medical doctors to obtain full training in Traditional Chinese Medicine to become a licensed Acupuncturist, which is the case in the State of Hawaii. Licensed Acupuncturists attend years of intensive training, which could mean up to 3400 hours of classroom and clinical training in a Masters program. An increasing number of Oriental Medical Colleges have obtained accreditation by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM), to offer Doctorial programs for licensed acupuncturists. The profession sees continuous improvement and development. It is interesting to note that the World Health Organization and the Pew Charitable Trusts have both acknowledged that a minimum of 1500 hours of training is required to be able to perform acupuncture.
Medical acupuncture works with the Western understanding and scientific evidence of anatomy, physiology and biochemistry. It was created for Western physicians who want their patients to benefit from acupuncture, without giving credence to Traditional Chinese Medicine and its complex theories, patterns of disease and associated symptomology. These concepts are not easily understood by physicians trained in Western medicine who are seeking to use acupuncture to complement their clinical practice. Therefore, a modern, mainstream version of acupuncture is being offered to patients. It must be understood that Medical Acupuncture differs from Traditional Oriental Medicine, in that the former treats symptoms and the latter adheres to an ancient and proven medical system that has effectively treated all disease conditions for millenniums.
It is important that the general public understands the differences between a Traditional Oriental Chinese practitioner and an MD who uses acupuncture modalities, as they will not receive the same spectrum of holistic treatment care.