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Wisconsin pioneered legislation of basic science standards

The Basic Science Law of 1925 was a major piece of public health legislation, establishing an educational standard for practitioners charged with treating the sick in Wisconsin. In fact, it was the first such law passed in the United States, and the Wisconsin Medical Society played a key role in making that happen.

During the Society’s August 1924 Annual Meeting, Otto B. Bock, MD, of Sheboygan, called for a reintroduction of a basic science bill to the state legislature, after an earlier bill had been defeated the previous year.

“The fact it was not passed in no way lessens its crying need; in no way lessens our responsibility as an organized profession to point out once more its value,” said Dr. Bock, who served as chair of the Committee on Public Policy and Legislation.

By February 1925, two companion basic science education bills, which followed the Society’s recommendations, had been introduced in the State Senate and Assembly. Only five legislators voted against the bill in the Assembly, and it was passed unanimously in the Senate by all 29 senators present on May 26. Less than year after Dr. Bock advocated for its reintroduction, the Moul-Boldt Basic Science Bill, 27A, was signed by Gov. John J. Blaine on June 10, 1925, becoming “Wisconsin’s Basic Science Law.”

Under this law, no person could treat, or attempt to treat the sick without a certificate of registration in the basic sciences of anatomy, physiology, pathology and diagnosis. In addition, a state board of examiners in the basic sciences, consisting of three members, would be appointed by the governor. The new law also affected chiropractors, who had been practicing in Wisconsin since 1915. After Feb. 1, 1925, any chiropractors seeking to practice in the state had to pass the basic science examinations before getting their license from the basic science board of examiners.

At the Society’s 1925 Annual Meeting a few months later, Society Council (Board of Directors) Chair Edward Evans, MD, presented Dr. Bock with a framed copy of the law, along with the pen used by Gov. Blaine.

Test your knowledge!

What state public health body did the Society have a hand in establishing in 1876? If you know the answer or would like to take a guess, e-mail Jennifer Wieman by noon, Wednesday, June 15. Good luck!

Thomas Zoch, MD, correctly answered last week’s trivia question: Rock Sleyster, MD, held the office of secretary right before he served as president of the Society. Coincidently, the year Dr. Sleyster was elected secretary in 1913, the office had been previously held by Charles Sheldon, MD, who subsequently served as president from 1913 to 1914.

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