I am almost done with my first semester, just three more weeks! Every school is different and your experience will be unique, however I can tell you what has made it so difficult for me. First of all, you will be doing physical exams on someone (and vice versa) and if you have body issues this can be difficult. I have psoriasis on 80% of my body so needless to say I have major body issues. When I started the program, just the thought of pulling up my sleeve to have my BP taken sent me into an emotional tailspin. But I got through it and I am a better, stronger person because of it. Second, you will be performing many skills in front of the critical eyes of your professors. Our professors are hard on us, and expect us to "connect the dots" and "critically think" meaning, they are expecting us to know stuff that isn't necessarily in the book or that they havn't necessarily taught us. This aspect left many of us feeling beaten down and stupid, but after we started talking and realizing that we were not alone, it has become easier to bear. Third, the exams/quizes are just a different kind of hard. I could read and study a chapter exhaustively and still fail a quiz. The questions are often abstract, obscure, and what makes it most frustrating is you could take the same exact question with possible answers to each of your professors and you would get a different "most right" answer. So the right answer in one class may not be the right answer in another class. To cope with this I have just started making sure I understand the material and if I don't do so well on a quiz I do my best to just let it go. In our program, there is a lot of self studying, self teaching and self motivation. Our professors will show a skill (sugh as inserting a foley catheter) ONE TIME, and if you didn't happen to be in open lab during that time, then oh well. But, you better still know the skill when skill check-off time comes. The emotional journey has been a series of peaks and valley, triumphs and defeats.
My reccomendation for you in brushing up on your anatomy is to know the heart (anatomy, blood flow, systole, diastole, pulmonic, peripheral, BP, etc), and to know lung anatomy and gas exchange (hemoglobin, chemoreceptors). Those are the biggies. next I would brush up on the bones and the major arteries (brachial, femoral, etc)
If I could go back in time I would buy the Prentice Hall Nursing Comprehensive Review for NCLEX-RN and start practicing NCLEX style questions. In the chapters, start with the basic reviews of the heart, lungs, fundamentals, safety, infection control, and then take the quizes if for no other reason than to get an idea as to what NCLEX style questions are like, what the rationales are like, etc. This would have helped me emmensely.
Prentice Hall has a series of books for nursing students called "Reviews and rationales". I bought many of them and they have helped me emmensly because they take what the book has and put it in bullet points. One other must have book is the NANDA International Nursing Diagnoses Handbook. If your teachers are like ours, they won't really explain what nursing diagnoses are all about, but they will expect you to know and fully understand it. The NANDA book has been essential for homework assignments that required me to give or understand a certain ND.
Hope this helps and GOOD LUCK!!!!