Zach Chudy moved away from Waukesha so he could pursue his dream of joining his father’s chiropractic office.
After years of school, hard work and a few trips between Iowa and Wisconsin sprinkled in, he is ready to leave Palmer Chiropractic College to finish his clinical hours at Chudy Chiropractic Clinic on North Grandview Boulevard in Waukesha where Chudy hopes to work after graduation.
But a state chiropractic exam — enacted in 2009 — has him worried about taking over the family business in Wisconsin. And a Brookfield legislator is among those who "has his back."
After accruing significant costs for chiropractic school and taking strenuous national boards to be a licensed chiropractor, he’s upset that he has to take “an unfair exam” costing $1,600 each test, he told Waukesha Patch.
Opponents of the test claim the test is rigged as a competitive advantage for other chiropractors in the state.
While Chudy would like to think he can pass the test — he has high marks on the board tests he’s taken so far and he’s been on the dean’s list every term at Palmer — he knows of a valedictorian who has failed the test on the first try. That valedictorian hasn’t been able to find out why he failed or what went wrong on the test, Chudy said.
Others have taken it repeated times before they have passed, he added.
Chudy, his friends and family members are reaching out to state lawmakers in an attempt to get the exam repealed.
“Several of them signed on already,” Chudy said. “Whatever other help can be done would be great. I am getting married, and I would like to continue my career.”
Chudy is not alone in the fight against the exam requirement.
Chiropractors between 2002 and 2009 had to pass their national licensing boards — a rigorous four-test exam — in order to practice in Wisconsin. However, a legislation change enacted in 2009 requires new chiropractors to pass a special state exam to practice in Wisconsin. Only one person has passed on the first try since the change was enacted and six out of 11 chiropractic hopefuls have passed in total, according to Madison.com.
The Wisconsin Chiropractic Association wants the exam to remain in place, despite the difficulties future chiropractors have with the test. It continues to advocate for the exam:
The WCA Board of Directors strongly supports the continuation of the state exam, under the stipulation that the students have accessibility to the test. We are doing everything we can to encourage the Chiropractic Examining Board to iron out the implementation hurdles, and great strides have been made to improve the accessibility and control the costs (see links below for more specifics on that process).
The decision to continue to support the exam by the WCA Board of Directors was not made in a vacuum. It was not made to financially benefit the WCA, any single doctor or group of chiropractors. There are no motivations to curtail commerce. Any assertions made as such by outside groups or individuals are both erroneous and malicious.
“We are not in this to restrict incoming doctors, but rather have this be a tool for professionalism,” Wisconsin Chiropractic Association Executive Director Karen Rockwell told Madison.com, which noted that WCA gave $170,000 to state politicians in 2012.
Not all legislators agree with the WCA, however. State Rep. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, is advocating for the law to be changed. He’s one of several legislators who introduced a bill that would repeal the special chiropractic exam.
“I am simply saying let's get rid of this exam and let’s be like every other 49 states,” Kooyenga said.
The Chiropractic Society of Wisconsin, a rival group to the Wisconsin Chiropractic Association, is also pushing for the law to be changed. Their chief concerns, according to Kooyenga, are that the exam:
- is harmful to their professional reputation
- makes it difficult to sell practices
- increases consumer prices by limiting the number of chiropractors
In addition to limiting the number of chiropractors who can practice in Wisconsin, Kooyenga said, it costs $1,600 a test for aspiring chiropractors and puts additional tax burden on the state to administer the tests.
The Chiropractic Society of Wisconsin, in an email to its members, said there were 120 people entering the chiropractic field in Wisconsin a year but now only six people entered since 2012.
There is no evidence that patients are safer because of the special exam that is difficult to pass, Kooyenga said.
“I’ve heard many stories of graduates of chiropractic school leaving the State of Wisconsin because they are so intimidated by the test,” Kooyenga said.