Under New Jersey law, provisions relating to regulation of veterinarians are provided under N.J. Stat. § 45:16-1 through N.J. Stat. § 45:16-18.
The State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners
The State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners consist of five members, each of whom shall be a person of recognized professional ability and honor in the veterinary profession in this State and shall have practiced veterinary medicine and surgery in the State for at least five years immediately preceding appointment to the board [i]. The board will hold two or more meetings for examinations each year at such time and place as it shall determine, due notice of which shall be made public. At all meetings a majority of the members of the board shall constitute a quorum, but the examination of applicants for a license may be conducted by a committee of one or more veterinary members duly authorized by the board.[ii] The board will issue a license to each qualified applicant[iii].
The applicant may make satisfactory proof that the applicant is a qualified veterinary graduate as defined in this act or who shall provide a certification acceptable to the board that the applicant will be awarded a degree in veterinary medicine at graduation during the academic year from the college or university the applicant attends and has passed a national licensing examination as required by the board[iv]. However, the board will not issue a license to any person prior to graduation[v].
The board may waive all but the law portion of the examination and issue a license to any person who at the time of the application:
- Holds a current license in good standing to practice veterinary medicine, surgery and dentistry in another state, U.S. territory, or the District of Columbia, which has education and examination requirements which are substantially equivalent to the requirements of R.S.45:16-1 et seq. for the issuance of a license, or is a board certified specialist in a clinical specialty approved by the board through rules and regulations and recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA); and
- Has passed the National Board Examination (NBE) and the Clinical Competency Test (CCT) as prepared under the authority of the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (NBVME), or its predecessor organization, the National Board Examination Committee for Veterinary Medicine (NBEC), or the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) or any subsequent national licensing examination prepared under the authority of the NBVME or the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB), or a substantially equivalent examination, as approved or established by the board, unless at the time the applicant became licensed in another state, U.S. territory, or the District of Columbia, the NBE or CCT, or subsequent examinations prepared under the authority of the NBVME, were not required by this State, in which case the applicant need only have passed whatever national licensing examinations were required of entry level licensed veterinarians in this State at that time; and
- Has actively practiced clinical veterinary medicine, surgery and dentistry at least three years of the five years preceding application.
Applicants who are not graduates of AVMA accredited schools must possess a certificate issued by the Education Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates (ECFVG)[vi].
A candidate who fails to qualify can take additional examinations upon the payment of an additional application fee[vii].
Practice of Veterinary Medicine
In order to practice veterinary medicine in New Jersey, a license is mandatory[viii] and the practice of veterinary medicine, surgery and dentistry is considered as a profession[ix].
Any person shall be regarded as practicing veterinary medicine within the meaning of this chapter, who, either directly or indirectly, diagnoses, prognoses, treats, administers, prescribes, operates on, manipulates, or applies any apparatus or appliance for any disease, pain, deformity, defect, injury, wound or physical condition of any animal, including poultry and fish, or who prevents or tests for the presence of any disease in animals, or who performs embryo transfers and related reproductive techniques, or who holds himself out as being able or legally authorized to do so[x]. However, the term “practice of veterinary medicine, surgery, and dentistry” does not include:
- The calling into this State for consultation of a duly licensed veterinarian of any other state with respect to any case under treatment by a veterinarian registered under the provisions of this act;
- The practice of veterinary medicine by any veterinarian in the performance of his official duties in the service of the State of New Jersey or the United States Government, either civil or military;
- The experimentation and scientific research activities of physiologists, bacteriologists, biologists, pathologists, biological chemists, chemists, or persons under the direct supervision thereof, when engaged in the study and development of methods and techniques directly or indirectly applicable to the problems of veterinary medical practice;
- The administration to the ills and injuries to their own animals by persons owning such animals; provided, however, that they otherwise comply with all laws, rules and regulations relative to the use of medicines and biologics used in so doing;
- Persons gratuitously giving aid, assistance or relief in emergency or accident cases, if they do not represent themselves to be veterinarians or use any title or degree appertaining to the practice of veterinary medicine, surgery or dentistry;
- Any properly trained animal health technician or other properly trained assistant, who is under the responsible supervision and direction of a licensed veterinarian in his practice of veterinary medicine, if the technician or assistant does not represent himself as a veterinarian or use any title or degree appertaining to the practice of veterinary medicine, surgery or dentistry, and does not diagnose, prescribe, or perform surgery;
- Emergency paramedical services rendered during the transportation of an animal to an animal or veterinary facility, when the transportation is provided by any person providing the service for hire as a business;
- The care, repair and rehabilitation of wildlife species by wildlife rehabilitators under the responsible supervision of a licensed veterinarian;the undertaking of duties and actions, in accordance with the provisions of subparagraph (2) of subsection a. of R.S.45:16-9, by a student at an accredited veterinary school, if the student does not represent himself as a veterinarian or use any title or degree appertaining to the practice of veterinary medicine, surgery or dentistry; and
- Artificial insemination[xi].
Facilities maintained and used in connection with the practice of veterinary medicine shall be clean and sanitary[xii]. Also, it is unlawful for a licensee to advertise falsely, fraudulently or in a manner likely to mislead the public[xiii].
Every person licensed to practice veterinary medicine, surgery and dentistry will have to procure a certificate of registration issued upon the payment of a fee[xiv]. The certification of registration is issued for a two-year period. A registrant not practicing in New Jersey may apply for an inactive registration. In addition to information about the registrant, the board will require each licensee to the name, address and telephone number of each veterinary facility in which the registrant will practice 500 or more hours per year; the type of practice; the legal organization of the practice and that entity’s name, address and telephone number, if different from the facility address and telephone number; and the name of the principals for that entity. Upon the receipt of the form properly filled in, and such fee, the board will issue the certificate of registration[xv].
A registrant applying for active license renewal shall complete not less than the requisite number of hours of continuing veterinary education as determined by the board, of a type approved by the board, during each two-year license renewal period to be eligible for relicensure. Prior to license renewal each licensee shall submit to the board proof of completion of the required number of hours of continuing education over the prior two-year period. The board may, in its discretion, waive requirements for continuing education for an individual for reasons of hardship, such as illness or disability, retirement of the license or other good cause.
Applications for renewal of certificates shall be in writing to the board, accompanied by the required fees. The license of any person who fails to procure a timely renewal will be suspended by the board upon notice. Any license so suspended shall be reinstated at any time upon the payment of all past-due registration fees and an additional reinstatement fee determined by the board. The board may require that any applicant for registration who has ceased the practice of veterinary medicine for a period in excess of three years be reexamined and be required to complete additional continuing education requirements as a prerequisite to relicensure. Any person whose license has been suspended for such cause will be regarded as an unlicensed person for such period.
Every duly licensed person, before commencing the practice must procure the certificate of registration within 30 days of the commencement of such practice and must conspicuously display at all times his/her license and registration certificate for the effective two-year period in his/her main office. Every licensee is obligated to report to the board in writing any change in his/her place of practice, whether same be his /her main office or branch office, within 30 days of such change[xvi].
It is to be noted that if veterinary practice is carried on by a partnership, corporation incorporated under Title 14A of the New Jersey Statutes or professional association, all partners or shareholders must be licensed veterinarians[xvii].
A veterinary practice may employ for each licensed veterinarian in the practice as veterinarians not more than two qualified veterinary graduates who have obtained a temporary permit[xviii]. A lawfully qualified veterinarian of another state who meets the requirements of this State for licensure may take charge temporarily of the practice of a licensed veterinarian of this State during his absence from such practice, not to exceed 90 days, unless renewed, upon written request to the board for permission to do so and upon payment of a fee as determined by the board. [xix].
Discipline of Veterinarians
No person shall directly or indirectly engage in any acts or practices specifically prohibited to duly licensed veterinarians[xx]. A veterinarian or boarding kennel owner may elect the humane disposal of an unretrieved animal no sooner than 4 days after the owner or agent has signed or refused to sign for the receipt of a certified letter from the veterinarian or boarding kennel owner indicating intent to humanely dispose of the animal[xxi]. Such letter must be sent to the owner’s or agent’s last known address.
[i] N.J. Stat. § 45:16-1.
[ii] N.J. Stat. § 45:16-4.
[iii] N.J. Stat. § 45:16-5.
[iv] N.J. Stat. § 45:16-7.
[vi] N.J. Stat. § 45:16-7.2.
[vii] N.J. Stat. § 45:16-8.
[viii] N.J. Stat. § 45:16-9
[ix] N.J. Stat. § 45:16-9.2.
[x] N.J. Stat. § 45:16-8.1.
[xii] N.J. Stat. § 45:16-8.2.
[xiii] N.J. Stat. § 45:16-9.3a.
[xiv] N.J. Stat. § 45:16-9.4.
[xvii] N.J. Stat. § 45:16-9.6.
[xviii] N.J. Stat. § 45:16-9.7.
[xix] N.J. Stat. § 45:16-9.7.
[xx] N.J. Stat. § 45:16-9.8.
[xxi] N.J. Stat. § 45:16-15.