What does autonomy mean and how does it influence nursing practice?  Autonomy means practicing with independence – free to make decisions that benefit others.  According to the literature, it is the most important factor to increase productivity, improve quality of care and boost job satisfaction.  People who believe they have a voice and are involved in decision-making are more engaged and more productive in their work.  If you or your department isn’t practicing to its full potential, start with autonomy.  These 3 steps will put you on the path towards autonomous practice:

Step 1:  Become a solutionary.  People complain about problems all the time.  They spend an incredible amount of energy complaining to their boss or to each other.  Instead of complaining, come up with a solution and then pitch it to your supervisor.  Ask your co-workers for ideas.  You are in the best position to create solutions to the problems you deal with every day in health care.

Step 2:  Get involved.  Join a committee, council, journal club or community project where your voice as a nurse can be heard.  There are over 3.1 million of us in this country.  Just imagine the improvements we could make if we all just got involved.

Step 3: Improve your communication skills.  Autonomous nursing practice requires us to communicate both verbally and in writing in a way that demonstrates our competence and knowledge as professionals.  Credibility is all about how we communicate our worth.  The more value we bring to health care, the more reliable we are as decision makers.

I hope these tips help.  You deserve to believe you make a difference.

Take care and stay connected!