1. Put aside inviolable time to study every damn day. Even weekends, even holidays. Don't get into the habit of thinking that you'll do it later, or that you can catch up. Study every day. You'll be glad you did.
2. Put aside inviolable time to think about something other than nursing every damn day. That includes not thinking about nursing blogs, or blogging your own experience. If you don't keep some other interests alive, you'll turn into StudentNurseBot, and you'll go crazy.
3. Yes, you will have no social life. This will not bother you. There's plenty of time for a social life after you've passed the NCLEX; nurses are notoriously hard partiers.
4. Make the effort to look as nicely pressed and crisp and clean and starched as you can during clinicals. Really and truly, it makes a difference. You'll not only feel more confident, but your patients will feel better about having you in the room. And if you have a crappy day, at least you looked good.
5. A word about your patients: on the whole, patients don't mind having student nurses. Some of them love it. Think about it: they get individualized attention from someone who's detail-oriented. They want you to succeed.
6. A word about nurses: on the whole, nurses want you to succeed as well. In four years, I've only seen one group of students that I felt couldn't hack it as even marginal nurses. The other students I've seen I have wanted to help, encourage, and see do well. Yes, there is the occasional wackjob or sadist who hates students. You'll be able to pick that person out of a group in no time and avoid them.
7. Another word about nurses: on the whole, nurses do not eat their young. The ones that do (and I work with one) bite everybody, not just the new nurses. And nobody likes them. Their colleagues avoid them, the doctors try to do end-runs around 'em, and management knows their tricks. Do not let the Nurse From Hell ruin your day.
8. Look around at the class you're in. Two thirds of the people in the introductory courses will probably wash out. Support them, study with them, and lean on them anyway. The relationships you form in nursing school last for about five minutes after pinning, but they're the most important relationships you'll have during school.
9. Some of your professors hate nursing. Some of them will try to discourage you, or will show favoritism to particular students for unfathomable reasons, or will be nasty without cause. Ignore those professors. Cultivate respectful relationships with the instructors who love what they do.
10. Pay attention in A&P. Learn enough skills to pass your skills lab, but don't fret about starting a zillion IVs. Know your drug book backwards, but remember that you'll have a set formulary in your hospital--you won't have to remember everything forever. Care plans suck, but they're useful in figuring out disease processes and really do come in handy sometimes. Never use "Potential For" as a nursing diagnosis more than once in a care plan. Make sure you have good pens. Always carry an extra scrub jacket.
And get out there and kick some ass. Being a nurse is infinitely more pleasant and much, much easier than being a student. Soon you'll be done with school. While you're doing it, remember that those of us who've been there are pulling for you.
This post has "refilled" my tank to pursue nursing after the "incident" at the recruiter. I love Jo and her blog and have laughed and enjoyed reading about her life. She will be the FIRST featured blog on the new blog roll.