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25 Common Examples of Autonomy in Nursing + How to Get More


Written By: Darby Faubion BSN, RN

One of the primary principles upon which the Nursing Code of Ethics is based is the principle of autonomy. Nurses who want to be successful must ask themselves, “What is autonomy in nursing?” and learn ways to implement the principle in daily practice. In this article, I will share 25 common examples of autonomy in nursing and discuss strategies to help you get more autonomy as a nurse.


What Does Autonomy Mean In Nursing?


Autonomy in nursing is defined as a nurse's ability to apply professional knowledge and experience to patient care and make clinical decisions regarding patient care. Autonomy grants nurses the authority to determine specific components of patient care without having to consult managers or physicians before acting.


Who Controls Autonomy In Nursing?


The level of autonomy in nursing is controlled by several factors. State boards of nursing outline the scope of practice for nurses. The organization or facility for whom the nurse works establishes job descriptions that detail the responsibilities of nurses and should include the scope of practice for their role. Additionally, administrative leaders and nurse managers decide what nurses are capable of and assign duties based on their level of competency and experience.


Do Nurses Enjoy Higher Levels Of Autonomy Compared To Other Healthcare Professionals?


Many nurses enjoy higher levels of autonomy when compared to non-nursing healthcare colleagues. The more education a nurse achieves and the higher their nursing position, the more autonomy in nursing they have.


What Are The Two Main Types Of Professional Autonomy In Nursing?


There are several sources that address autonomy in nursing. Each source offers varying opinions about autonomy due to the complexities associated with autonomous nursing practice. Professional Autonomy is the authority to make decisions and freely act in accordance with one's professional knowledge and skills to implement those decisions. It is identified with characteristics including competence, knowledge, decision-making, self-governance, freedom, self-control, responsiveness, and judgment. Professional autonomy is typically broken down into two main categories: clinical autonomy and practice autonomy.

• Clinical Autonomy

is the nurse's authority to make independent judgments about patient care. Clinical autonomy encompasses the nurse's right to freedom and discretionary practices within their scope of practice, which promote positive patient outcomes.

• Practice Autonomy

is the type of autonomy in nursing that describes the nurse's influence over their practice setting. Decisions about organizational rules, policies, procedures, structure, and operation are included in Practice Autonomy.


Top 10 Advantages Of Autonomy In Nursing


When implemented correctly and within a nurse's scope of practice, there are several advantages to having autonomy in nursing. Nurses must consider the importance of their actions on the job and weigh the pros and cons of each decision they make. The following is a list of top advantages of practicing autonomy in nursing.

1. Encourages the nurse’s involvement in team decision-making:

When working in an environment that supports autonomy in nursing, nurses are more likely to become active participants in team decision-making, positively impacting patient outcomes and promoting stronger interdisciplinary relationships.

2. Lower absence rates:

When employers encourage and support autonomy in nursing, nurses feel valued and believe their presence is a significant part of their organization. Some research indicates that there is a lower rate of absences in settings where nurses are allowed to practice autonomously.

3. Increases job satisfaction:

Studies have shown that nurses who are granted autonomy in nursing practice are happier with their work. Many nurses report that autonomy is more important to them than work settings.

4. Strengthened interdisciplinary team relationships:

When nurses practice autonomously, it helps team members feel as if there is someone to support their efforts instead of leaving them to work alone. When the work environment is less stressed, interdisciplinary relationships tend to flourish.

5. Improved patient outcomes:

One study found that hospitals with increased nursing autonomy experienced decreases in post-surgical mortality rates and improved patient outcomes.

6. Autonomy in nursing can positively impact the organizations for whom they work:

When patient outcomes improve, patient satisfaction rates tend to improve. Funding for technological advancements and expansion relies heavily on patient satisfaction rates.

7. Autonomous nursing teams help units and facilities run smoothly:

When there is autonomy in nursing, team members know what is required of them and carry the weight of their assignments. Although the team functions as a whole, the individual efforts of each nurse help to ensure work is accomplished timely and efficiently.

8. Employee retention rates are higher when nurses practice autonomously:

Nurses who are trusted to work autonomously feel a sense of importance and appreciation. Because it is important to nurses to feel their knowledge, skills, and judgment are needed, they tend to stay at jobs where they are appreciated and allowed to demonstrate their competence.

9. Facilities that promote autonomy in nursing tend to attract more qualified nurses:

Nurses like the idea of working where their knowledge and experience are appreciated, and they can demonstrate their abilities through autonomous practice. Employers who support nursing autonomy typically attract nurses with experience.

10. Hospitals can achieve magnet status:

The American Nurses Credentialing Center establishes guidelines to determine if a hospital is eligible to achieve magnet status. There are 5 Model Components and Forces of Magnetism as outlined by the ANCC. The third component of magnet status eligibility is Exemplary Professional Practice which includes Force of Magnetism #9, nursing autonomy.


Top 5 Disadvantages Of Autonomy In Nursing


While there are many advantages of autonomy in nursing, there are also some disadvantages. By carefully considering the advantages and disadvantages, nurses can help reduce the occurrence of adverse outcomes associated with autonomous practice. The following are a few examples of disadvantages of autonomy in nursing.

1. Nurses may experience increased anxiety, feeling as if they must perform perfectly:

Supporting autonomy in nursing is an excellent way for employers to show their confidence in the nurses they employ. However, some nurses, especially less experienced nurses, may feel anxiety because of perceived pressure to perform well. In this case, it is important for nurses to understand they don't have to know everything to be successful. Ask questions, put your best effort in, and learn something every day.

2. Managers may become lax with supervision:

When supervisors become comfortable with their nurse's ability to perform independently, they may relax in their roles, leaving nurses to work with less supervision. Unsupervised employees may follow their leader's example and become less attentive to their duties, which negatively impacts patient and professional outcomes.

3. Lines of professional authority may become blurred:

Although autonomy in nursing offers several advantages, it is not uncommon to hear of situations when nurses overstep the boundaries of their role. It is crucial for nurses to understand their job duties and responsibilities and to remain within the boundaries of their roles while demonstrating autonomy in practice.

4. Not all healthcare professionals support the idea of autonomy in nursing practice:

While it is necessary for nurses to learn to work independently and to be comfortable making decisions based on their knowledge and skills, some healthcare professionals feel autonomy should have limits. Nurses can buffer the tension that lack of support for autonomy creates by always acting professionally and within their scope of practice and participating in interdisciplinary collaborations.

5. Nurses may feel their work is scrutinized more carefully:

With freedom in practice, there is a great responsibility to perform at high levels of accuracy. Although nurses enjoy the freedom associated with autonomy in nursing, they may feel as if their work and decisions regarding patient care are examined more carefully by management. Nurses leaders can reduce these reactions or feelings by complimenting staff for jobs well done.


10 Types Of Nurses That Enjoy The Most Autonomy


All nurses have some level of autonomy. Generally, the higher degree a nurse has and their role on the healthcare team determines how much autonomy in nursing they have. The following are examples of ten types of nurses who enjoy the highest levels of autonomy in their practice.

1. Nurse Practitioners:

Nurse Practitioners (NPs have prescriptive authority in all fifty states and can operate independent practices in most states, making them one of the nursing roles with the highest level of autonomy.

2. Home Health Nurses:

Nurses who work in home health specialize in caring for patients in the patients' or their loved ones' homes. Home health nurses carry out their job duties without another nurse or physician's immediate, direct supervision. In the context of home health, autonomy is the result of the care environment.

3. Nurse Educators:

One of the most important members of the nursing profession is the Nurse Educator. These special nurses educate and influence the profession by preparing future nurses for practice. Nurse Educators work autonomously in the classroom and in clinical settings instructing, supervising, and mentoring students.

4. Hospice Nurses:

Hospice Nurses may care for clients in their homes, nursing homes, or hospice care facilities. Like Home Health Nurses, Hospice Nurses spend a lot of time providing one-on-one care to patients. Although they are members of a larger interdisciplinary team, Hospice Nurses still have a considerable level of autonomy.

5. Nursing Administrators:

Nurses who work in administrative or management positions have some of the highest levels of autonomy in nursing. These nurses supervise other nurses in diverse settings, oversee department scheduling and finances, handle staffing issues, and act as patient and staff advocates.

6. Forensic Nurses:

Although Forensic Nurses work in collaboration with other healthcare team members and law enforcement, they typically have a high amount of autonomy. These nurses provide specialized care for clients and their families experiencing acute and/or chronic health consequences related to violence or victimization. The Forensic Nurse's role requires a great deal of independence to manage their workload, which includes not only caring for trauma victims but also serving as an expert witness in court cases.

7. Telehealth Nurses:

The duties of telehealth nurses revolve around providing nursing advice and care to patients using virtual healthcare platforms. Telehealth Nurses practice with high levels of autonomy, using their judgment to assess situations and make decisions.

8. Nurse Midwives:

Although their scope of practice may vary depending on where they practice, most states offer Certified Nurse Midwives full practice authority. The states that do not allow full practice allow practice with a collaborative practice agreement with a physician. Certified Nurse Midwives provide medical care to women through pregnancy, childbirth, and beyond. This type of advanced practice registered nurse enjoys high levels of autonomy in nursing.

9. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist:

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists exercise some of the highest autonomy in nursing. The high level of education and the certification process to become a CRNA qualify nurse anesthetists to make independent decisions related to patient care, and they are rewarded with the benefit of autonomy in practice.

10. School Nurses:

Another example of autonomy in nursing roles is the School Nurse position. It is not uncommon for school nurses to work alone or with only a few coworkers. They are responsible for administering medications, assessing students for injuries, administering first aid, and providing vision and hearing screenings.



WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF AUTONOMY IN NURSING?


Examples of autonomy in nursing can be simple and related to the daily task or more complex and involve contributing to the interdisciplinary team. Everything a nurse does that reflects independent decisions and promotes effective patient care based on sound nursing judgment, and clinical experience can be categorized as an act of autonomy in nursing. The following are 25 common examples of autonomy in nursing.

1. Prioritizing tasks

Even in nursing school, students learn the importance of prioritizing patient care to help make work easier. This example of autonomy in nursing is an excellent way for nurses to show they understand which patients need immediate care or which tasks require swift attention.

2. Administering PRN medications

When patients complain of pain or discomfort, nurses can assess their symptoms and determine if PRN medications are indicated. Exercising good nursing judgment and administering medications that are not scheduled for specific times is an example of autonomy in nursing.

3. Delegating tasks to Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurses, Certified Nursing Assistants, or others as appropriate for patient care

Autonomy in nursing is often reflected in a nurse’s decision to delegate tasks to others on the healthcare team. It is the nurse’s responsibility to ensure tasks are assigned to qualified people and that the assignment is within that person’s scope of practice.

4. Managing assigned tasks without immediate or constant supervision

When nurses perform their duties with high levels of autonomy, they do not require constant supervision or oversight from supervisors or peers. That is not to say that members of the interdisciplinary team are unavailable or should never be called upon. Instead, it means the nurse is confident in her abilities and demonstrates skill and expertise while providing high-quality patient care independently.

5. Making decisions about patient care

When there is autonomy in nursing, it allows nurses to make decisions in patient care. In emergency situations, autonomy could mean the difference between delayed treatment, which could have negative results, or immediate treatment, which could improve patient outcomes.

6. Performing a patient assessment based on the nurse’s observations

Nurses often make autonomous decisions without thinking about it. For example, when a nurse enters a patient’s room and observes the patient grimacing and holding his abdomen, she may perform an assessment to try and figure out what is causing the patient’s pain.

7. Verifying medication orders with the physician and pharmacy

One of the most important lessons nursing students can learn is to trust their gut instincts. If a physician writes an order for a medication that the nurse thinks is contraindicated for her patient, she may contact the physician for clarification. If there is still doubt, it is appropriate, and a good example of autonomy in nursing, to call the pharmacy to verify before administering the medication.

8. Educating patients and their caregivers

Nurses provide education to patients and families about diagnoses, medications, and treatments. Integrating education with daily nursing tasks is another example of how nurses can implement increased autonomy in nursing practice.

9. Checking vital signs when concerned about the patient’s status

When patients are admitted to service, orders for vital signs are included in their care plan. Nurses understand an order for vital signs every four hours does not mean that is the only time vials should be evaluated. An example of autonomy in nursing is when the nurse feels there is a reason for concern or believes a change in the patient's status occurred, and they assess the patient's vital signs at a time other than the regularly scheduled assessment.

10. Changing the position of the patient’s bed

In some cases, there may be orders to maintain a patient’s bed position at a certain level. For example, a patient who has had a spinal tap must lie flat for a certain period. Patients with pulmonary issues causing shortness of breath will need the head of their beds elevated. Another example of autonomy in nursing may occur when there is no order designating bed position, yet the nurse feels the need to change the bed’s position to promote patient safety. Acting on nursing experience and judgment is an excellent way to demonstrate autonomy.

11. Learning about new technologies to improve patient care

Healthcare is an ever-changing industry. To be effective, nurses must stay alert to changes and be proactive in learning about measures that will enhance the care they provide. Being willing to learn about new technology or equipment used in patient care is one way to demonstrate autonomy in nursing.

12. Performing core clinical nursing tasks without being instructed to do so

Licensed nurses have a defined set of skills and knowledge base. When nurses draw from knowledge and skills, they can practice autonomy by engaging in activities related to clinical nursing tasks and patient care.

13. Participating in the decision-making processes related to policies and organizational operations

Another excellent example of autonomy in nursing is the nurse’s right to provide input when decisions that affect their practice must be made.

14. Openly communicating ideas and concerns with the patient care team

Sometimes, one of the best things you can do to promote autonomy in nursing is to express your thoughts or concerns about the patient or his plan of care. Nurses who speak up on behalf of patients or work to promote more efficient patient care make excellent leaders.

15. Interpreting test results within the nurse’s scope of practice

Although nurses do not write orders based on test results, they can interpret test results, notify physicians, and update the nursing care plan based on new test results and diagnoses.

16. Making changes to the patient’s nursing care plan

Unlike doctors who write physician’s orders and treatment plans, nurses create nursing care plans. When the patient’s status changes, positively or negatively, nurses demonstrate autonomy by initiating changes to the nursing care plan and educating the patient and nursing team about the changes.

17. Offering ideas to help improve organizational aspects of the unit or facility

Organization is key to running a nursing unit effectively and efficiently. A great example of autonomy in nursing is recognizing the need to improve organization and presenting ideas to a leader or supervisor. For example, the nurse may notice that the wound care supply room is out of order or has expired supplies and offer to remove unnecessary or expired items.

18. Assisting subordinate nursing personnel when necessary

While it may be appropriate to delegate tasks to other nurses or unlicensed assistive personnel within the nurse’s scope of practice, nurses can demonstrate autonomy by choosing to assist others instead of delegating the task to others.

19. Initiating measures to promote patient safety

Patient safety should always be a top priority. Simple measures such as placing the patient’s bed in a low position, placing cords in areas where the patient does not get tangled, and instructing the patient about fall precautions and safety measures to prevent falls are autonomous nursing actions.

20. Offering support to the patient’s friends and family

Sometimes, the best thing a nurse can do for a patient is to be there for their loved ones. Taking the initiative to be a source of support is another one of the excellent examples of autonomy in nursing.

21. Being a source of encouragement and guidance to new nurses

Successful nursing teams depend on one another and foster the growth and development of individuals within the team. One great way to demonstrate autonomy in nursing is to help less experienced nurses develop their clinical skills. You don’t have to be a nursing instructor to be a great teacher in nursing. Every nurse can learn something from another nurse. Take advantage of opportunities to inspire and help others. Also, you may find that you feel refreshed and encouraged by the excitement new nurses bring.

22. Turning and repositioning patients

Bedbound patients and patients with weakness that limits their mobility should be turned or repositioned at least every two hours to prevent compromised skin integrity. The nurse may decide to reposition the patient at closer intervals for various reasons, such as patient complaints of pain or discomfort or when the nurse observes signs that indicate changes in the color or integrity of the skin. This act of autonomy in nursing is an excellent way to improve patient outcomes and reduce the costs associated with the care needed due to skin breakdown.

23. Assessing a patient’s intake and output

Typically, when a patient is admitted for a diagnosis related to renal disease or dysfunction, congestive heart failure, or pulmonary edema, the care plan includes recording intake and output. If a nurse assesses signs of fluid overload or dehydration, she may feel it is appropriate to evaluate the patient's intake and output and report any concerns to the physician. This is a critical autonomous nursing intervention that could prevent complications related to fluid imbalances.

24. Performing or assisting patients with range of motion exercises

Every patient should be engaged in range of motion exercises. If a patient can perform active range of motion, the nurse may encourage him and instruct him on ways to promote better movement. When a patient has limited mobility, passive range of motion may be needed. Although nursing assistants and therapists may perform passive range of motion on clients, it is within a nurse’s scope of practice to do them as well.

25. Reporting concerns about any violation of the Nursing Code of Ethics

It is every nurse’s responsibility to uphold the guidelines established in the Nursing Code of Ethics. Autonomy in nursing is not limited to patient care but also includes measures to protect and promote high-quality professional nursing practices.



10 Strategies You Can Use To Achieve More Autonomy As A Nurse


Nurses are trained to use their knowledge and clinical skills to make decisions about patient care independently. Still, there are some things you can do to increase the level of autonomy you have in your practice. The following are some simple strategies to help get more autonomy as a nurse.

1. Demonstrate the ability to work independently:

One of the best, most logical ways to get more autonomy in nursing is to show you can handle the responsibilities that come with independence.

2. Become a problem-solver:

Anyone can add to problems, but a real leader finds ways to become a problem-solver. Look for ways to improve your department or facility and improve patient care.

3. Be organized:

Show your supervisors that you can manage your workload efficiently by prioritizing and organizing your daily work.

4. Offer support to others:

Being supportive of coworkers, patients, and peers is an excellent way to enhance and expand opportunities for autonomy in nursing.

5. Increase your education:

The more you learn, the more you can apply to your nursing practice. Specialty certifications or higher degrees offer nurses advanced knowledge, enhanced skills, qualifications, and competencies. With higher education comes increased opportunities for enhanced autonomy.

6. Volunteer to be on committees at work:

Another way to increase autonomy in nursing is to become active on committees or in healthcare-related activities. Employers and supervisors like to find nurses who are comfortable taking on new projects and tend to come back to the same people for future needs.

7. Become a model of desirable behavior:

Nurses observe the behavior of their team members. If you want to get more autonomy, demonstrate the behaviors associated with well-qualified, professional nurses. Nurse managers, leaders, and administrators notice nurses' behaviors and work ethic on their teams and often reward them by giving them more freedom to practice or take on leadership roles.

8. Develop relationships with medical providers:

Establishing strong collegial and professional relationships with medical providers is an excellent way to gain their respect and trust. The more a physician or other healthcare provider knows about you and feels you are trustworthy, the easier it becomes to establish higher levels of autonomy in your practice.

9. Be a patient advocate!:

One of the most important roles of nursing is being a patient advocate. If you want increased autonomy in nursing, be a strong advocate. Offer the healthcare team and providers ideas and professional insight about things you feel could benefit your patients, demonstrate a willingness to collaborate, and find the best solutions for patient care.

10. Be flexible:

Nothing is more frustrating to nursing supervisors than being short-staffed and having no one willing to lend a hand. If you find yourself in a situation where your unit is slow, and another one needs help, make yourself available to the nursing supervisor. When you show a willingness to work on different units, take on responsibilities that are not part of your normal routine and perform them well, leaders appreciate your efforts. When you prove yourself to supervisors, the level of autonomy you have will likely increase.


7 Consequences Of Lack Of Autonomy In Nursing


Lack of autonomy in nursing can result in negative, sometimes serious consequences. When nurses realize the importance of autonomy and how to implement it into practice, risks are reduced. The following are examples of consequences that occur when there is a lack of autonomy in nursing.

1. Interdisciplinary team collaboration becomes compromised:

When nurses fail to practice autonomy, the weight of decision-making and patient care is often shifted to more independent team members. As a result, team collaboration weakens, which can negatively impact interdisciplinary relationships and patient outcomes.

2. Depersonalization in patient care:

Nurses who are limited on the amount of autonomy they can express or who do not take the initiative to exercise the right to autonomy often feel frustrated and can begin to feel disinterested. When this happens, depersonalization in patient care can manifest as callous or negative behaviors may occur. A few examples of depersonalization include the inability to express grief or empathy, making unprofessional comments directed at peers, and blaming patients for their health problems.

3. Negative patient outcomes:

Autonomy in nursing practice is influential in promoting improved patient outcomes. Patients cared for by nurses with higher levels of autonomy typically have decreased waiting time for care. Conversely, when nurses must depend on others to tell them what to do and when, patients may be forced to wait longer than necessary for treatment, which could negatively impact their health outcomes.

4. Nurse burnout:

Many nurses voice concern that the limits on their practice associated with little to no autonomy make the job more stressful. In these cases, a lack of autonomy in nursing can result in nursing burnout.

5. Poor nurse-patient relationships and communication:

When autonomy is limited or restricted in nursing practice, it can negatively impact the relationships and communication between nurses and patients. Nurses may feel as though their opinions and judgment are not valued, which can cause them to withdraw or be less engaged.

6. Lack of motivation:

When nurses are limited by a lack of autonomy, their motivation to perform well is often affected. Unfortunately, when job performance becomes slack, patient outcomes suffer, and nurses could find themselves in positions where their jobs are at risk.

7. Poor patient satisfaction ratings:

Some may wonder how a nurse’s lack of autonomy affects patient satisfaction. When a nurse’s right to make decisions about patient care or act independently is restricted, it can lead to increased wait times for patients. The longer a patient waits, the more like she is to become frustrated and dissatisfied with service, which can impact satisfaction scores.


BONUS! 8 Ways Nurse Leaders Can Promote And Enhance Autonomy In Nursing


Successful nurse leaders recognize the importance of autonomy in nursing and implement measures to promote it. Each nurse and healthcare team is different. Leaders must approach the team as a whole while appreciating the diversity within the team. By demonstrating behavior that promotes and enhances autonomy in nursing, leaders develop strong teams and help improve the interdisciplinary team and patient outcomes. The following is a list of eight ways nurse leaders can promote and enhance autonomous nursing practice.

1. Clearly communicate expected behaviors and roles for nurses:

Nurse leaders can enhance autonomy in nursing by describing which behaviors are appropriate and acceptable.

2. Collaborate with nurses to find out how you can support their goals to achieve autonomous nursing:

Being a leader does not always mean telling people what to do or how to do it. Strong, effective leaders know the importance of listening to others. Talk with the nurses on your team and find out about their personal and professional goals. Encourage them to become strong, effective nurses. Ask what you can do for them to help them achieve their goals and become successful.

3. Encourage nurses to make decisions about patient care based on their knowledge and skills:

One way nurse leaders can promote enhanced autonomy in nursing is by encouraging nurses to use their knowledge and skills to make important patient care decisions. When nurses feel like their leaders trust them and depend upon their judgment, it fosters confidence in their practices.

4. Create an atmosphere supportive of independent nursing practice:

Studies suggest when leaders create a climate that promotes and supports independent practices, it augments the level of autonomy in nursing.

5. Trust the nurses on your team to do the work they’ve been asked to do:

Nurse leaders can encourage autonomy in their nursing team by having confidence in their skills. When you assign tasks to your team, avoid hovering over them. Instead, make it clear that you are available if they need help and allow them to get the work done.

6. Consider implementing patient care rounds or team reports at the beginning/ending of each shift:

When nurses engage in collaborative team reporting or patient rounds, it creates opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge and decision-making skills. Nurse leaders can enhance autonomy in nursing by allowing their nurses to meet and discuss patient problems and needs and work together to form action plans to improve patient outcomes.

7. Offer support and encouragement to nurses who seek to earn a higher degree or pursue additional certifications:

Nurse leaders who create an environment supportive of both informal and formal continuing education opportunities are influential in promoting autonomy in nursing.

8. Ask team nurses for input about patient care strategies:

Nothing says, "I have faith in you," like asking someone for their opinion. Nurse leaders can help enhance autonomy in nursing by demonstrating confidence in their team members and including them in collaborative efforts of patient care.


My Final Thoughts


Throughout this article, we have addressed the question, “What is autonomy in nursing?” and offered some insight into the pros and cons of autonomy, as well as ways to enhance it in nursing practice. Nurses can demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and professionalism by implementing autonomous behaviors. The 25 common examples of autonomy in nursing + the strategies to achieve more autonomy as a nurse featured in this article are just a few ways nurses can become stronger in practice and contribute to improved patient and healthcare outcomes.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY OUR EXPERT


1. Do All Nurses Enjoy The Same Level Of Autonomy?

Although all nurses have some level of autonomy, they do not have the same level. The level or amount of autonomy each nurse has depends upon their job. For example, Nurse Administrators experienced greater levels of autonomy than staff nurses.


2. What Type Of Nurse Enjoys The Highest Level Of Autonomy?

Nurses with the highest levels of autonomy include nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, certified registered nurse anesthetists, and telehealth nurses.


3. What Is Partial Autonomy In Nursing?

Partial autonomy is used to describe limits on the independence of nurses in practice. A perfect example is the practice authority of nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioners who work in reduced practice or restricted practice states can diagnose and treat patients, but their practice is limited to some degree requiring collaboration with a physician.


4. Can I Retain Autonomy Despite Being Subordinate To A Doctor?

Autonomy in nursing means the nurse has the knowledge and ability to apply professional measures to patient care. Nurses can retain autonomy despite being subordinate to doctors.


5. What Does Patient Autonomy Mean In Nursing?

Patient autonomy relates to respect for the patient’s right to make decisions regarding their care. Patients who have the capacity to make decisions have the right to do so, even if their decisions contradict their healthcare provider’s recommendations or if their family disagrees.


6. As A Nurse, What Is My Responsibility In Promoting Patient Autonomy?

It is the nurse's responsibility to accept each patient as a unique person with rights to their own values, opinions, beliefs, and the right to make decisions regarding their care. Autonomy is one of the basic principles upon which the Nursing Code of Ethics is based.


Darby Faubion BSN, RN
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years of experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels. Because of her love of nursing education, Darby became a test-taking strategist and NCLEX prep coach and assists nursing graduates across the United States who are preparing to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).