CNES History

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A bit of history. . . California Nurses for Ethical Standards, CNES, is a non-profit 501(c)(3), educational and professional non-partisan organization founded over 20 years ago to promote ethical practices. Two nurses, a student and graduate R.N., became concerned when the hospital where they were working contemplated doing abortions.

With a strong commitment to promoting ethical medical and nursing practices and championing conscience rights, they called the first recorded meeting in Mission Viejo, California on October 24, 1984 under the name of Southern California Pro-Life Nurses Association. Nurses from other parts of California also needed support so the organization grew in numbers and in scope, and evolved into: California Nurses for Ethical Standards. Florence Nightingale

had a vision . . . Florence Nightingale was a strong, independent woman born of a wealthy family during a time in the 1800s known as the ‘Dark Ages of Nursing’.  She was drawn to nursing the poor and sick despite vehement family opposition to this unheard – of – behavior from a woman in her social position. Miss Nightingale, with her brilliant mind and genius for organization, became the world authority on the scientific care of the sick. She brought about much needed reforms to the nursing profession which gave it respectability. She instituted formal training schools for nurses and insisted they must not only teach the mind but also form character.

Moral training permeated all phases of her program which included the novel idea of disease prevention in addition to care of the sick. Florence was fondly dubbed the ‘Lady with the Lamp’ by wounded Crimean War soldiers as she walked the halls of their hospital wards at night, lamp in hand. The high standards and strict discipline she demanded along with true care and compassion made nursing more than an occupation – nursing became a true profession.

Thus her lamp became the symbol of the nursing profession. We seek to uphold the Nightingale vision . . . California Nurses for Ethical Standards seeks to maintain and restore the Nightingale vision of ethics and moral integrity as the foundation of health care, disease prevention, and health education. We believe, as Florence Nightingale did, that health care must be for ‘the good of the patient.’ We pledge not to assist in the taking of a human life in the course of our professional duties, nor to advocate any philosophy that would accomplish that end. California Nurses for Ethical Standards branched out in its activities over time.

We developed educational brochures on a variety of topics. Nurse members trained to do classroom presentations on prenatal development and sexually transmitted diseases in high schools. Health fairs benefited from our presence. Continuing education courses for nurse members helped keep them informed on ethical issues. Our legislative liaisons kept a careful watch on the Capitol. We helped co-sponsor day conferences regarding ethics and bio medical concerns. California Nurses for Ethical Standards also helped launch two other statewide professional nursing organizations in 1993: the Nebraska Nurses for Ethical Standards and the Oregon Nurses for Life and Health.

The vision in action . . . California Nurses for Ethical Standards promotes ethical practice in many ways. We distribute quality educational materials. We give classroom presentations on topics such as the amazing facts of fetal development, and promoting chastity and sexual health in the modern world. We network with Medical, Nursing, Advocacy, Educational and Bioethics organizations of similar philosophies in order to benefit from one another’s knowledge and experiences and collaborate on strategies for promoting ethical values and practices in our society, particularly in healthcare settings. California Nurses for Ethical Standard’s newsletter, LifesCeNES, is mailed to members four times a year, providing them with cutting edge information on life and health issues in our state and around the world, and empowering them to exercise their conscience rights.

We also offer home study courses for continuing education hours, CEs, to members for free or for the cost of materials only, and to non-members for low cost. Our Speakers’ Bureau also educates members and communities on a variety of topics relating to our stated purpose.

nce Nightingale (1820-1910). — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS