Are you autonomous

Nurses General Nursing


Ive heard about the autonmy of nursing and nurses,but when I work I dont feel very autonomous,maybe Im not empowered or I dont appreciate the autonomy I have.

Will some please articulate for me the autonomy of nurses and the nursing profession?

Thanks. Let my people go.


2,099 Posts

Specializes in Corrections, Psych, Med-Surg.

Nearly nonexistent until/unless one is a NP.


177 Posts

That depends on the facility, the unit you're on and the doctors. My very first nursing job, we had lots of autonomy. We had standing orders for the unit but in case of urgent or emergent needs we acted first on most things then notified the physician. It was easier to have current lab values when you called them than to get the order then call back with the results. We also had an house officer for the major issues. The docs appreciated the fact that we had our ducks in a row so to speak before we woke them. They were much easier to deal with. It actually allowed us to do what we were trained to do, and it helped develop critical thinking skills.


310 Posts

Where I currently work (in an OR) autonomy for staff nurses is non-existent. Only managers have any degree of autonomy, the direct patient care-givers have none. Let my people go, indeed!


6,620 Posts

I work OB and feel a fair amount of autonomy. Most of the time the docs aren't even there unless I tell them to come.


837 Posts

Not so much autonomous as responsible.......Anything goes wrong, I'm responsible.


6,620 Posts

Don thats the "find a nurse, blame a nurse, fire a nurse" strategy. Works very well in some facilities....

James Huffman

473 Posts

Originally posted by sjoe

Nearly nonexistent until/unless one is a NP.

Joe, not attacking you, but I wonder what this means.

I've found that many NPs are basically functioning as jr. docs, or something of that nature. One acquaintance who is an NP has finally given up on correcting patients who call her "Dr." They basically refuse to believe that she's a nurse. That troubles me. Are we saying that nurses are just para-professionals who couldn't or didn't make it to med school?

Nurses hold independent, autonomous licenses to practice professional nursing. This is why, "when something goes wrong," -- assuming we're the one who did it -- we are responsible. There's no back-up to your practice. You are responsible for providing professional nursing care to your patients.

Autonomy, like power, is not something given, like some kind of award. It is something assumed, claimed, owned by those who have the authority to do so. Your education -- and the license you hold -- give you that authority.

No one in any professional field is ultimately autonomous. We all practice our craft in a web of professional and business relationships. But you have the obligation and responsibility to provide quality care in your field of expertise. Take that responsibility very seriously, and guard it jealously.

That's autonomy, folks.

Jim Huffman, RN


2,099 Posts

Specializes in Corrections, Psych, Med-Surg.

Webster's New World Collegiate Dictionary:

autonomous--"...functioning independently without control by others."

THAT's autonomy, folks.



263 Posts

While as a RN you are responsible for your actions and do have an indepenednt lic. to practice nursing. AND IF YOU WANT TO GO INTO MANGEMENT YOU CAN HAVE SOME AUTONOMY IN REGARDS TO ADMIN. NURSING. However, if you are seeking true autonomy in regards to clinical practice you have to become an advanced practice nurse (NP/CRNA). ANd if that is not enough you have to go to medical school. I work in the ER and MICU of a teaching hospital and have about as much autonomy as you can get as a RN, but it still is doesn't fulfill me, so therefore, I am trying to go to CRNA school and am hoping that I will have enough autonomy in that role. I believe that the lack of true autonomy in regards to medical management is one of the reasons people don't go into nursing or once they become a nurse they are disappointed. And I have not met any CRNA"S/NP"S or MD"S who were once bedside nurses tell me that they miss it. As a matter of fact, they have all encouraged me to go back to school and go for it. Now don't get me wrong I have the greatest respect for good RN'S, healthcare could not function without us. However, I do find our autonomy very restricted especially compared to other professions that require a college degree.

renerian, BSN, RN

5,693 Posts

Specializes in MS Home Health.

I am very much that way from being a home health nurse for 11 years.



603 Posts

In research you tend to be autonomous too -- the docs can't keep up with their protocols or the patients.

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