i did not work as a CNA before i went to NS. i found the first clinical rotation hard. my first patient was a complete cares geriatric who went hospice halfway through my shift. talk about an awakening! it was my first bed bath but i recruited some of my classmates who had been a CNA and now i can do bed baths in my sleep! i agree that you will get a chance to do skills as you go through. i got hired as a CNA when i was in my LPN year at a place for traumatic brain injuries. it was a small facility and the staff was small and super understanding and i had many nurses show me how trachs were not as intimidating as school made them seem. again another skill i can do in my sleep now.
in clinical......be nice to your nurse no matter how rude they are to you. offer to do anything, i mean anything! our last semester we were on one floor for the whole semester and got to know the floor staff very well. they all talk. i would also talk to them about their nursing school experience. we had mutual friends and a lot had gone to my school and had my instructors. i was soon paired up with the charge nurse every time she was on duty. never be above any job. my clinical instructors had us clean rooms like dust until we gained their trust. then when we were on the computers they would understand we were looking something up. if a patient is discharged on a busy floor and you are not busy off to take out the linens or clean up what you can to help housecleaning. take patients to the bathroom and always walk them if they are ambulatory! if you don't know a med during prelab look it up BEFORE you approach your instructor to administer it. know your labs and buy a nursing diagnosis book. you will soon know them all but until you do look up diagnoses in the book. i asked to go to rounds and asked my nurses a lot of questions. when i went to the ER and OR i always offered to do skills and procedures. i was very go-getter about my clinical rotation (i'm such an introvert!) but no one is going to hand feed you information. if you don't seem interested your floor nurse will not find you to do procedures. stay busy. unless your census is less than or equal to the amount of students on the floor there are things to do. offer to call dr.'s and pharmacy for your nurse. we had a few days that census was less than the number of students and then you learn charting better.
in the classroom.....it is true that the squeaky wheel will get the oil but do not try to be the know it all or challenge your instructor repetitively without good reason to. those students quickly dropped out or got the bad clinical assignments. if you have a serious problem with an instructor (i did with one who accused me of plagiarizing but never checked my sources which i found out when i approached her) talk to them in private after class hours. know that you do NOT know more than your instructor. yes, there is a difference between real world nursing and nclex nursing. your instructor is trying to help you pass nclex. yes they are aware of, and probably use, the real world nursing in their bedside nursing but at school accept that they know what they are doing and talking about. be prepared for discussions in class about the material being covered. it is not supposed to be the first time you see the info. i will admit i was not good at this. i am an auditory learner and if i heard it it stuck with me forever but i lose my attention when i read a textbook so i would not read much. i advise against this. we had a lot of pop quizzes. do not be afraid to meet with instructors after class hours to review info you do not understand. take notes. lots of notes. find a study group and go out once a week and study material. i did not do this but a lot of my classmates did this and LOVED it.
stick through it for the time you are in it. it gets better. i went through my LPN year, got a LPN job and started the RN program a semester after i finished the LPN program (i grad in Dec 10 and started Jun 11). I just grad in May 12 and will start my BSN program in a week. one student who graduated a year ahead of me said it best....these two years are like boot camp, you play by their rules and put up with the no notice change of schedules and you will survive....there is an end in sight. my stepdad told me of his college days also. he went to a college where they were known for being very tough (one of the military colleges). one day there was a picture on the blackboard (drawn by a fellow student) of the president on the college with a nose that was in the form of male genitalia with the sentence under it saying, "you can make it harder but you can't make it longer (in reference to the program and graduation)!" that is true. keep that in mind when you feel like you can't deal with the stress anymore.