People practicing medical acupuncture, or medical acupuncturists, are those physicians who have earned a short certificate in acupuncture. Physicians may earn a certificate in acupuncture if they complete 300 hours of instruction and clinical experience. The amount of training hours in “medical acupuncture” certificate programs is significantly less than the 4050 hours necessary to earn a license in acupuncture to become a “Licensed Acupuncturist”. Medical acupuncturists in these 300 hour courses learn basic point protocols to help treat some ailments. On the other hand, Licensed Acupuncturists, with greater than 10 times more training than Medical acupuncturists, have a significantly greater depth of knowledge and understanding of acupuncture from which to diagnose and treat the most complex ailments.
The acupuncture community believes that it is an incredibly positive development that so many physicians are becoming interested in learning acupuncture. The one fear is that the general public will assume that doctors who practice acupuncture, or Medical acupuncturists, are more trained and therefore better practitioners than non-doctor, Licensed acupuncturists. If a patient then visits a Medical Acupuncturist and the acupuncture does not work, that patient may conclude that acupuncture does not work. In reality, it is more likely that the 300 hour certificate program did not adequately train the doctor to treat the ailment. Some doctors recognize this problem and have opted to complete 4050 hour programs to become Licensed Acupuncturists.