I've only worked peds cardiac ICU, but from talking to many of the nurses who have come to my unit from adult ICU, it appears that there is huge difference in nursing autonomy in pediatric versus adult ICUs. I think the NICU has the least autonomy out of the three units at my hospital (NICU, PICU, PCICU), and that PCICU has the most. And that's not saying much because I feel like I don't have much autonomy most days. I titrate anti-hypertensive drips like Nitroprusside and Nicardipine to stated BP goals, and some sedation like Precedex as needed. But we typically need to ask to go up on Fentanyl drips (even though we bolus as much as we need), and we never touch Epi drips without an order. Obviously we don't titrate Milrinone, and we don't use Dopa or Dobutamine on my unit.
The adult ICU nurses told me that they could titrate pretty much any drip, and give fluid up to a certain amount before calling the provider. We would never be allowed to give fluid boluses on our own, even if their pressures are 40s/30s with a CVP of 2.
I think it's ridiculous you can't start an IV on your own, and don't get me started on giving intermittent IV meds sterilely or NICU's lack of sedation/pain management. Even our NICU isn't THAT bad. Yours sounds particularly stifling.
I think that if you love the specialty, stay and get the experience you need and go elsewhere. I have many friends who have come to my unit from a NICU background where the nurses re-taped tubes on their own without asking the medical team, went to deliveries and put in their own PICC lines. So it definitely can be done. I also believe that, sometimes, if you earn the respect over time, you gain more and more independence to do things as long as they're correct things to do. For example, even if it isn't your unit culture to check a glucose, I think it would not make your resident explode in anger if you did it with sound clinical judgment. Something like, "Hey, I noticed that the blood sugars have been trending down, so I checked and their sugar is 20. Do you want to give a D10 bolus?" Or something along those lines. It shows you have an idea of what's going on, and they can't be mad really because, well, you're right.