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A Brief History of the Board

In 1963, after 50 years of lobbying by successive chiropractic groups, the New York State legislature and Governor Nelson Rockefeller finally enacted a bill, sponsored by Senator Dutton Peterson and Assemblyman Richard Lounsberry, to authorize chiropractic as a licensed profession. Consequently, chiropractic became the 20th profession in Title VIII of State Education Law subject to the regulatory authority granted the Board of Regents and the State Education Department.

The first professions to be so licensed in New York State were medicine in 1892, dentistry and veterinary medicine in 1895, and certified public accountants the following year. By the time chiropractic began its quest for licensure in 1913, pharmacy, nursing, optometry, certified shorthand reporting and podiatry had already secured status as licensed professions.

On October 10, 1963, to assist the Regents and the State Education Department begin administering the new law, an “unofficial” meeting “was held for the purpose of…Board members and members of the Department staff to become acquainted” among other items for discussion. These first Regents appointees to the State Board for Chiropractic Examiners, as it was then known, included: Dr. C. Gorham Beckwith, D.O., “Mr.” Mahlon Blake, “Mr.” Julius Dintenfass, “Mr.” Bernard Lewis, and “Mr.” John Long. It was reported that “progress was being made in the selection of a medical doctor and a person qualified in the basic sciences.” A Department staff person informed the Board of the determination by its Legal Division that chiropractors were prohibited from using the honorific title “Dr.” or the designation “D.C.” after their names, a determination later altered as chiropractic educational standards rose.

The rest of the time spent at that meeting and, for that matter, a major focus of most subsequent meetings until 1996, addressed the preparation, administration and scoring of the licensing examination; hence the name “Board of Examiners”. Eventually, in 1995 following years of monitoring and discussion, the Board advised the Department that the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners had completed its development of a full battery of exams that tested knowledge and skills. The Board recommended that we accept passing scores on the Parts I – IV as meeting the exam requirement for licensure in New York State. In April 1996, New York State administered its last licensing exam.

Since then, the State Board for Chiropractic has redirected its time and talent more equally toward addressing all matters of regulating the chiropractic profession. The Board has provided advice to the Department in such areas as disseminating consumer information; clarifying various scope of practice issues; drafting practice alerts to assist licensees avoid misconduct; streamlining and improving disciplinary procedures; conducting training for Office of Professional Discipline investigators and prosecutors; enhancing licensees’ awareness of alcohol or substance abuse problems and how the Professional Assistance Program deals with them; and forwarding a proposal to revise and update regulations.

Why New York Boards are Unlike Other States’ Boards:

In 1904, the Governor of New York, Teddy Roosevelt, successfully convinced the necessary parties that the education and regulation of practitioners of the learned professions should be placed under the State Board of Regents. He reasoned that the preparation for practice and the entry into practice should be integrated. He also recognized that oversight by an apolitical body would serve as a deterrent to anyone trying to “buy” either a license to practice a profession or a way out of a misconduct action.

In fact, New York’s regulatory structure predates by nearly a century recommendations for increased lay oversight of the professions promoted in a 1998 report entitled “Strengthening Consumer Protection” issued by the Pew Health Professions Commission of the University of California’s Center for the Health Professions. Unlike other states, New York’s boards, all 25 of them for 39 professions at this writing, are comprised of licensees and one or more consumers who advise and assist the Board of Regents and the State Education Department on matters of professional regulation.

In contrast to professional regulatory boards in other states, the State Boards in New York have no inherent authority to make determinations. The members of New York’s boards cannot set fees, create credentialing standards, or approve specialization credentials. They cannot set the boundaries on scope of practice, introduce legislative bills, or promulgate regulations. They cannot make final determinations of guilt or innocence in discipline cases, or determine penalties for professional misconduct. Such determinations are assigned in statute to the Board of Regents.

When the Regents or the Department seeks Board advice on matters of professional licensure, practice or conduct, the Board attempts to provide that advice much the same as a licensee provides professional advice to a patient. Board recommendations must be responsive to the need, must be communicated clearly in a common language, and must be provided not as compulsory dictums, but as advice that may or may not be taken. That advice spans every area of regulatory activity authorized in Title VIII of Education Law. It includes recommendations of hearing panels of Board members regarding moral character determinations of applicants for licensure, disciplinary findings of licensees charged with professional misconduct, and whether or not a license should be restored to an applicant whose license had been revoked by the Regents.

Who Are We and How Were We Appointed?

The composition of each State board is specified in Education Law, which authorizes the Board of Regents to appoint the members of each board. Board members are appointed as Public Officers and, thus, must be residents of the State. Each must be dedicated to the primary objective of protecting the public, not the profession, and conducting oneself according to what is in the public, not private, interest.

The Chiropractic Board is defined in Article 132, §6553, and since its inception in 1963, continues to require a minimum of four chiropractors, a medical physician, an osteopathic physician, a doctoral educator in the basic sciences, and a consumer of chiropractic care. Currently, there are 12 members on the Board (see table).

In addition to the above requirements, board composition should reflect the State's geographic regions, the racial and cultural diversity of the general population, and among the licensees, as much of a variety of professional practice areas as is possible given the limited number of members. Members must be available for service at least one day per month, sometimes more, and must be willing to travel to any part of the State, sometimes requiring overnight lodging. For each day of service, a member receives an honorarium of $100 plus reimbursement of associated expenses within State rates.

Nominations for membership on the State boards are accepted continuously. Interested individuals may themselves submit applications for board membership directly to the Executive Secretary for the board, or colleagues, professional associations, consumer groups, etc. may nominate them for consideration. Typically, a nomination consists of a brief letter of interest in serving accompanied by the nominee’s Curriculum Vitae. The Executive Secretary will set up an interview, and, if qualified, the person will be included in the pool of nominees for consideration by the Board of Regents when vacancies occur.

You may direct any questions or comments to: NYS Board for Chiropractic, Education Building, 2nd floor, 89 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12234; phone (518)474-3817, ext. 450; fax (518)486-2981; e-mail [email protected].