Confusion About Professional Autonomy Among Final-year Nursing Students in Spain

Antonia Arreciado Marañón*, Mª Pilar Isla Pera

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Nursing autonomy is an object of ongoing debate. Knowing how the next generation of nurses conceives of autonomy is essential, given its role in professional satisfaction and retention. The aim of this research was to understand how nursing students at the end of their nursing education view nursing autonomy. A qualitative study was conducted with third-year nursing students in Barcelona, Spain, using focus groups. A theme analysis was used and Guba's criteria of credibility, transferability, dependability and confirmability were applied. Three key themes emerged: 1) greater autonomy than expected; 2) historical increase in professional autonomy; and 3) confusion surrounding autonomy. Students' surpassed expectations and awareness of a historical increase in autonomy bode well for the profession. However, confusion about autonomy may lead to false expectations, which may cause some nurses to become frustrated and even leave the profession. Because this process occurs in a context of growing demand for nurses, understanding factors that affect hiring and retention is a priority. Strategies are needed to clarify new nurses' understanding of autonomy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-152
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Professional Nursing
Issue number35
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2019


  • Nursing education
  • Nursing students
  • Professional autonomy
  • Qualitative study


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