Let me start by saying this, the medical field, in of itself, is chuck full of egos. It's not just nursing.
With that said, I know exactly what you mean about big egos being rewarded in nursing school. I used to think getting into nursing school was competitive, then I got in and realized where the competition really is. I remember a group of about 5 nursing students in my class that we all had mixed emotions about: envy, distain, disgust, admiration, a want to be just like them... you name the emotion, the vast majority of the class had it. They all had the professors/instructors fooled into thinking they were all that and a bag of chips, and in a lot of ways, they were. No one was ever critical of their achievements, it was the "I'm great and I know it" attitude that was often followed with the "you're beneath me" tone that bothered everyone. We all worked hard in school, ALL OF US. We were all nursing students after the same goal. We were all in this together. I remember one day sitting at a table in the library with my study group, next to their table. The fab 5 were known for their incredible notes. One member of my study group, that day, asked to be a part of theirs for this one upcoming test. It was a big midterm and for this particular student, it was do or die time. We were helping her as much as we could but she wanted more help and asked the fab 5. If she didn't pass this exam, she would be out of the program. I remember her asking them if she could sit in on one of their study sessions. I clearly remember all of our faces when they almost unanimously (sp?) responded with a resounding "NO WAY!!!!". I don't know if we thought we should laugh, cry, or be indifferent. We were in shock and at first thought they were kidding, but, they weren't. Well thankfully, my study group partner went on to take the midterm and passed by the skin of her teeth, but she passed and I am happy to say it is nearly 5 years later and she is a phenomenal nurse who was just going through a rough time during that very last semester of nursing school. So close to graduation and having to worry about failing out, scary stuff! But it all ended well for her.
So why am I telling you this? Because later that day, myself along with a couple other students over heard the fab 5 talking about how they don't share their notes or allow anyone else in their study group because they felt they were decreasing the competition and opening up their own playing field when it came to finding a job. No joke, they actually said the words "the more people who flunk out, the less that are out there looking for jobs". WOW!!! Was all I could say! It was like the cherry on top of a very old sundae that no one wanted anymore. It was 2 very long years of egos, backstabbing, competition and all that. But there were so many great times too! It was my experience that you became closest with your clinical group and they became your family who always had your back. If you needed another IM injection or something like that, a member of your clinical "family" would be ready to offer their's up to you if they've already done it a few times. Things like that kept you going. But we all also witnessed the ugly in nursing school. And it wasn't just your fellow students, it could be instructors, the nurses on the units you would be assigned to.
The moral of the story is that the nursing profession can be very cut throat, very caddy, very, do I dare say... UNPROFESSIONAL. I wanted to be a nurse my entire life and finally got to do it as a career change later in life. I came from management in the corporate world after a lay off and I thought big business was cut throat... it doesn't even hold a card to nursing. But we have all been there. All of us!
A couple of times while in school I questioned if I really wanted to do this. But that was more of the stress and having no social life what so ever talking. When I came out of school I was one of the fortunate ones who got a job right away. I kept my options open. As much as I wanted to work in a hospital I put my resume out at LTC facilities too. I passed my NCLEX July 3rd and started my job on July 16th. And guess what, I HATED IT!!!!!!!! I dreaded going to work every single day I was scheduled. I started to get sick to my stomach and by the time I got to work my nerves were shot and I would usually cry all the way home. Nurses ate their young for breakfast, lunch, dinner and frequently snacked on them at this facility. It was awful. But I plugged away and gave it my year and then got a job as a med/surg nurse at a local hospital. And guess what, at first, it was great, everyone was great! I loved it! But I often heard the murmors about the nurse manager and how so and so is on her poop list and that's not where you want to be... but I didn't let it affect me, until, I ended up on that poop list and it was horrible... She almost killed my love for nursing and almost caused me to hate the nursing profession and I almost walked away from nursing all together because of her. But, I gave it one more try and got a new job at a different hospital and I'm happy to say I have been there almost 4 years and I love it. It is my dream job. Great management who supports their nurses, great nurses who are eager to learn and teach when the students come in, and we truly work as a team.
Moral of this part of the story is, hang in there. Your niche will come. We all have those moments/thoughts of "is this really for me?" or "did I make a huge mistake?". Self doubt is a beast that you just have to learn to control or it will eat you alive. Nursing is not for the weak of heart. Its a tough, stressful job. You are not expected to be great or perfect right out of the gate. You are going to go through those self doubting emotions a thousand times before you find that niche I spoke of. Its a natural progression.
Hang in there and you will do great. Good luck with your future endeavors!