i want you to know that i felt the same way as i was waiting to get into actual nursing classes. my mother had always wanted to be a doctor. she came from a very poor family that had some other social problems and her chances of going to medical school back in the 1930's during the depression years was pretty much next to nil. still, she loved the idea of medicine. my father had a part time job working with a salvage company (we called it a "junk yard") and he would bring home bundles of old medical journals that were being discarded. she poured over them like they were important ancient manuscripts. we kids were all exposed to this reading material if we chose to look at it.
one of the books she had lying around as i was waiting to get into nursing classes was a nursing textbook that was about 10 years old. i would pick it up and read through it. i didn't always understand what was in it, but the pictures and explanations about some of the procedures were fascinating. i have a very vivid recollection to this day of reading about a sengstaken-blakemore tube and the picture that went with it. when it came up in my nursing classes, the information was hard to find. i knew what it was and had a reference on it back at my mother's house!
anyway, i believe that what makes nursing classes so "difficult" for most people is that the information they are being asked to learn is brand new to them. learning information for the first time is always overwhelming. and, if you have no basis or background upon which to organize and place it (which most people don't) you feel as if you are learning but it isn't always making sense. so, my recommendation would be that you start to study some of these subjects now.
in nursing school you will be asked to learn about the signs and symptoms of many different diseases. this does build upon the anatomy, physiology and microbiology you will have taken. from those signs and symptoms you will be asked to learn what the expected medical treatment and tests are going to be. from the signs, symptoms and medical orders of these diseases will come the nursing interventions, or actions, that you will specifically learn about in nursing school. nursing schools often break down this learning into modules of medical, surgical, obstetrics, pediatrics, cardiology and pulmonary, renal and gastrointestinal, cerebrovascular, intensive care, psychiatry and community nursing. they focus on specific types of disease and disorders that occur to patients within each of those categories. usually, the first nursing classes are learning how to give basic nursing care (almost the same as a cna course) and basic nursing procedures such as handwashing and giving medications. this all has to be learned before you can go into a clinical area and take care of patients.
where would i start, if i were you? get a used nursing textbook, just like i had, and start reading about medical diseases. get a book on pathophysiology which organizes diseases by the various body systems and that might be a good place to start. a company called lippincott williams & wilkins which has bought up many of the major nursing publishers publishes all kinds of nursing related books. however, you might check the bookstores of the nursing schools around you to see what kind of textbooks they require. you don't have to be a student to purchase a textbook from a college bookstore. i have always been a big believer that using textbooks or other supplemental books outside what any instructor has suggested for a course is only going to make my understanding of the subject better. i wouldn't spend a lot of money on these, however. if you decide to buy books, get used ones. you should also be able to find a lot of information on the internet for free. there are a number of consumer websites that are easy to read and understand where you can get plenty of information on all kinds of diseases.
medline plus (use the search box) http://www.medlineplus.gov/
medicine net diseases & conditions a to z index http://www.medicinenet.com/diseases_...ns/article.htm
web md index list of medical conditions (i noticed last night that they had a huge tv ad promoting their website) http://www.webmd.com/a_to_z_guide/health_topics.htm
aetna intelihealth (use the search box) http://www.intelihealth.com/ih/ihtih...0/408/408.html
peacehealth consumer information (use the search box) http://www.peacehealth.org/
emedicinehealth first aid and consumer health information list of topics from a to z http://www.emedicinehealth.com/scrip...ticlekey=60185
encyclopedia of surgery http://www.surgeryencyclopedia.com/index.html
many of the large medical centers (perhaps even the ones in the area where you live) have informational sections on their websites for consumers. some of them are big organizations too! do some searching. i have links to patient information on diabetes from vanderbilt university medical center that are absolutely excellent. some of the national cancer centers have superb information about cancer and it's treatment on their sites. and, these are all geared toward the consumer, so you can understand them--a good place to start learning! some subjects i would recommend that you learn about are diabetes mellitus, heart failure, asthma, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, stroke, liver disease (in general), arthritis, aids, kidney (renal) failure, burns, pressure ulcers, and benign prostatic hypertrophy. read about cancer as well since cancer affects all organs of the body.
i am hesitant to even suggest that you look into the nursing process or care planning as it encompasses nursing interventions as well as the medical disease information. don't want to overwhelm and confuse you. read the posts on the various forums. use the search function if you want to find out something about a specific subject.
happy reading! welcome to allnurses!