Here’s how you can gain more autonomy as a nurse

Are you looking to take on more responsibility as a nurse? Perhaps you could use some autonomy — the ability to make decisions and take on leadership roles in the nursing field.

Jamie Murphy, author of “Transitions into Professional Nursing,” wrote that there are two different types of autonomy in nursing.

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One is clinical autonomy, which allows nurses to have more control in taking care of patients. The other is control over a practice that allows nurses to make structural decisions of a healthcare system.

According to, there are several options that allow nurses to have more autonomy and leadership in their roles.

Below are the top three roles that allow nurses to have control over a practice.

Chief Nursing Officer

A CNO is the highest administrative nursing position, typically earning $128,031 a year based on their experience.

CNOs’ responsibilities include managing hospitals, training nursing staff and building their staff. In short, CNOs are responsible for supporting other nurses to ensure patients are receiving the best quality care. In the field, they are mentors and leaders, and they work directly under hospital CEOs.

Director of Nursing

Often working with managing the budget, Directors of Nursing make an average of $100,980 a year.

Directors of Nursing serve as liaisons between nurses and other health consultants. They monitor expenses, work to improve the quality of healthcare services and oversee the hiring and development of their staff.

Nurse Manager

On average, nurse managers earn $115,160 a year.

Nurse Managers are the head nurses of staff. They are responsible for tasks such as creating schedules, leading their staff and giving performance reviews. Nurse managers typically work out of an office in any type of clinic, hospital, home or doctor’s office.

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According to Murphy, acquiring special certifications, establishing professional relationships with providers, subscribing to peer-reviewed journals to expand one’s knowledge base and getting involved in nursing organizations are ways to gain autonomy as a nurse. Murphy recommends that managers support their nurses and encourage them to make autonomous decisions.

According to Professional Autonomy of Nurses: A Qualitative Meta-Synthesis Study, a journal published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, maintaining autonomy in nurses is necessary for increased job satisfaction.

In the study, results show that increased autonomy led to improved quality care, increased quality of nurse’s working life and showed higher retention rates.

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