WI Chiro Regulation Out of Whack, Critics Argue

Prospective chiropractors are facing stricter standards in Wisconsin than in almost any other state, forcing some to move out of state to practice. The Badger Institute highlighted the story of Mikhaila Weister who has satisfied the national requirements, but cannot practice in Wisconsin because of the higher standards. Media Trackers’ Director of Communications Jerry Bader interviewed Weister who spoke about her own challenges with the state’s standards, and her thoughts on a bill that could potentially lower Wisconsin’s standards to match the national standards.

To become a licensed chiropractor in Wisconsin, one would need to get a score of 438 and 475 respectively on the third and fourth portions of an examination administered by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners. However, the national chiropractic standard for both sections only requires a score of 375. Wisconsin’s higher score was implemented in 2013 as a “compromise” for removing the state exam from being another requirement, on top of also passing the national exam. Removing the exam and raising the score has been the subject of debate between chiropractic associations and societies since it was removed.

Weister is one such graduate who has been affected by Wisconsin’s strict requirements. While her exam score exceeded national standards, she still cannot practice in Wisconsin. In an interview, Weister told Bader of the difficulty other prospective chiropractors as well as herself have in trying to meet Wisconsin’s standards:

“It’s kind of a difficult statistic to discuss just because it’s hard to follow those students who don’t even see Wisconsin as an option for them. They may have taken these boards in school and they aren’t even close to the 475. It they were to receive a 380 they’re like there’s no way I can gain another 90 points to get up to Wisconsin’s higher board exam. It’s difficult that they are probably going to other states and it’s hard to even track or follow them because they’re not even considering Wisconsin as an option at that point.”

As for removal of the state exam in 2013, Weister told Media Tracker’s it was replaced with having to meet “arbitrary” numbers that have been proven to have no real value in terms of public safety:

“In 2013 they did get rid of the Wisconsin licensure exam as a compromise, let’s say they got rid of that exam and put in to place the higher arbitrary numbers of 438 and 475. We had a testimony last week from a National Board of Chiropractic Executive, he came in and spoke for us saying these numbers that are in place right now are completely arbitrary due to the statistics and psychometrics of the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners, these numbers that are currently being held hold no statistical value or any value on public safety.”

“It’s tough for me to wrap my head around why Wisconsin decides that putting higher board scores will make us better chiropractors while amongst these national standards and other states that is the requirement. So is that placing Wisconsin at higher professionalism and standard, that’s what they argue, however there’s been no malpractice, there hasn’t been any statistics that show that Wisconsin has had malpractice or safety issues to our patients.”


While some may make the argument that Weister and others can simply retake the exam, she described the time consuming and financial cost of retaking it, as well as the frustration of surpassing the national score and not being able to work in Wisconsin:

“I’ve been trying to retake those tests and I’ve thought of going to other states but it’s financially consuming and also time consuming. Retaking just part three is $660 and retaking part four is $1,500, so every time you’re retaking these exams it’s difficult to take time off for work, studying while you’re doing full time work somewhere else not in your profession, I mean it’s a daily compromise that we’re having to make just because of these arbitrary numbers.”

“I think some people say lowering these scores makes us not as professional or not up to the standard but I guess I’d challenge people to think that we did go to these nationally accredited schools, we passed all the appropriate tests, and even on a national level after we graduated we passed the national board of examiners, but we just didn’t get the arbitrary numbers of Wisconsin’s level. So we could go out and practice in any other state at this point, but we’re just choosing to come back to our home towns in Wisconsin, we would like to open up these small businesses, we’d like to be around these communities that we grew up in.”


While the current licence standard is stifling prospective Wisconsin chiropractors, a bill was introduced on January 12th by state Representative Dale Kooyenga, that would revert Wisconsin’s score to match the national standard. Since it was introduced, the bill has been referred to the Committee on Regulatory Licensing Reform and has had a public hearing.


The full interview with Mikhaila Weister can be found here: