Levels of autonomy of nurse practitioners in an acute care setting

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Purpose:The purpose of this descriptive study was to determine the level of autonomy of nurse practitioners (NPs) providing care to an adult patient population in an acute care setting.Data sources:Data were collected from 54 NPs in different specialty areas currently working in a large metropolitan hospital. The Dempster Practice Behaviors Scale was used to measure the autonomy of the NPs.Conclusions:The overall mean autonomy score of 117.37 (SD = 14.55) indicates a high level of autonomy of the NPs in this study. Forty-one percent of the participants had very high levels of autonomy, 31.5% had extremely high levels of autonomy, and 19% had moderate levels of autonomy. Demographic variables of age; years worked as an NP, as an RN, and at current job; highest educational level; basic nursing preparation; NP certification; and specialty had no statistically significant relationship with autonomy scores.Implications for practice:The results of this study provided preliminary evidence of the level of autonomy of NPs providing inpatient care to adult patients in an acute care setting. The findings could lead to future research on the impact of NP services on patient outcomes and clinical productivity in acute care settings.

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