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New Jersey: A Brief History of Chiropractic

Imagine getting thrown in jail for practicing chiropractic in New Jersey without a license … but it was impossible to even get a license! However, this is what chiropractors in New Jersey had to contend with in the 1920s and for many years to come.

Boards tried to impose unreasonable standards on many of the healing arts, including the chiropractic profession. These medical examining boards made it even more difficult with the passage of the McClave Act in 1939 which established uniform license requirements for anyone in New Jersey wishing to practice any of the healing arts. Applying the standards of medical doctors, who perform surgery and prescribe medications, to chiropractors was a ploy used in states other than New Jersey to limit the growth of the chiropractic profession.

Finally, in 1953, the New Jersey law was changed and chiropractors were allowed to apply for licensure before an examining board consisting mostly of medical doctors and a single chiropractor.

Over time, New Jersey licensing laws continued to evolve with increasing educational and training requirements for chiropractors that were more in step with the national accreditation given chiropractic colleges. A state licensing board made up exclusively of chiropractors was created by the Legislature and signed into law.

Over the years, as demand by the public for a non-medicinal approach to health care increased, the chiropractic profession grew to levels never before seen. Various state associations began to form, but it was not until 2004 that the Association of New Jersey Chiropractors (ANJC) formed and rapidly grew to its current level of more than 2,000 member doctors who actively work to deliver the highest quality care to the tens of thousands of New Jersey citizens who seek out their care every day.

In 2009, the ANJC intensified one of its major efforts for a new scope of practice bill in the New Jersey Legislature, updating the original scope of practice that was in effect since 1953. The prime sponsors of the bill were Sen. Steve Sweeney and Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman, who fully understood the importance of the legislation and how the public would benefit from the added care the chiropractic profession could provide.

Since that time, the ANJC has been an extremely active participant in the legislative process and has had an outstanding relationship working with legislators on both sides of the aisle.