New Washington Legislation Opens Doors for Senior Chiropractic Students

In May, the Washington State Senate Bill 5817 (formerly HB1477) was passed in both Washington legislative chambers and signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee. This bill allows senior chiropractic students in approved preceptor locations to administer chiropractic adjustments.

The bill’s implementation expands training opportunities for students in Washington state, which will allow licensed chiropractic physicians to participate in student’s clinical training, as well as improve access to chiropractic services for patients.

“University of Western States (UWS) is proud to have played a role in advocating for this important legislation, which will enhance the clinical education opportunities available to our chiropractic students. We are also looking forward to engaging our alumni and friends in Washington state who are interested in participating in our preceptor program,” said UWS President Dr. Joseph Brimhall.

Under the previous law, senior chiropractic students in the state of Washington were not permitted to provide adjustments, which was a deterrent for some preceptorship-eligible students to complete their clinical training in Washington, including some that were already residents or wanted to practice in the state once they graduated.

senior students

“While my preceptorship experience was great, not being allowed to continue to the full capacity of my skills while in the final months of the program was moderately disconcerting,” said UWS Alumna Austin Bell, DC (Class of 2018). “Many students have avoided amazing preceptorship opportunities in the state of Washington simply because they weren’t allowed to get more time performing chiropractic manipulations. I was very happy to provide support for this bill to help influence change to this outdated legislature and get more, great, new chiropractic physicians to Washington!”

With the passage of SB5817, students will be able to participate in a variety of preceptor experiences with expanded opportunities to hone their education in real-world application.

“I was lucky enough to finish all of my school requirements and work under Dr. Jim Kurtz of Northwest Sports Rehab and the Seattle Seahawks as his preceptor,” said UWS Alumnus Benjamin Greenwade, DC, MS (Class of 2014). “The clinic system at the school is great, but learning the real world ins and outs of day-to-day practice management was something that school did not provide me with. Working with Dr. Kurtz helped immensely in building my successful clinics on the eastside of Seattle. Unfortunately, due to the previous laws, I was not able to adjust patients during my time as a preceptor. This meant that from the time I started my preceptorship until I was licensed in the state of Washington, I was not able to practice and improve my adjusting skills. To be honest, I lost some of my ability to adjust that working in the school clinics had afforded me. It is a use it or lose it skill, like most complex movements are. I feel that not allowing preceptors to adjust in the state of Washington limited the amount of talented new doctors that are coming to the area.”

UWS representatives, such as Dr. Bell and Dr. Greenwade, worked closely with members of the Washington State Chiropractic Association, including Legislative and External Affairs Director Lori Grassi, and the Washington State Chiropractic Quality Assurance Commission and its Executive Director, Robert Nicoloff, to move this bill forward. At Senate and House committee hearings, UWS Chief Clinical Excellence Officer, Dr. Joseph Pfeifer, was joined by UWS alumni who currently practice in Washington, and strong letters of support were submitted by representatives of ten other doctor of chiropractic degree programs.

“This effort was not solely a UWS initiative and had great support from several other chiropractic programs across the country,” said Dr. Pfeifer. “Ultimately, this bill expands opportunities for pragmatic, field-based clinical training of future chiropractic physicians, who will provide safe and effective care of the public in Washington and elsewhere.”

Learn more details about this momentous legislation.