I worked thru school as a critical care tech and ER tech, and it paid off big time when it came to confidene and knowing what to do in a crisis.
Case in point: During one of my very first shifts as an ED tech in a level 1, ambulance brought in a fifty-something man with new onset seizures. Well, I had only seen the "soap opera seizures" so nothing prepared me for what was going on with this guy. we literally got him on the cart and he started seizing again. Since we just covered this in school, I figured, no problem, I can handle it.
Well, i froze like a deer in headlights. Stuck. useless. Planted. I would have fired me.
Now I work in ED, and I had a terminally ill patient w/brain mets come in because of increased seizure activity. She was so sweet, but with horrible veins because of the dexamethosone. I was drawing her blood (like 7th stick because her veins kept blowing) and wouldn't you know it, she started to seize.
Cried out, classic Jacksonian march seizure, focal to the left hand (the one with the needle in it!!) with 'marched' up the arm and became a full blown tonic-clonic seizure. I undid the tourniquet, pulled out the needle, and called for help all at the same time.
Well, this time, no 'planted' for me. Got the charge nurse to bring me Ativan, got the resident in there, someone else got suction and slapped the non-rebreather on her. The seizure passed in a few minutes and she was properly postictal.
The moral of the story? Get any, all, every experience you can. You will find out what you love and what you loathe. You will be a better nurse with more insight. I love ED nursing. I can't imagine doing anything else now.
I wouldn't change a thing about working while in school. It was the best confidence builder I could have found.