"Dumped on the floor without a road map" this rings so true to me. Even as a seasoned nurse now, I clearly remember those days from school and my first year or two.
In school I was someone who had to have multiple highlighters, draw pictures of concepts, and see patient conditions in action in the hospital setting to understand them.
When I started nursing I was determined to create a tasking system. Something I carried in my mind was "this patient is a person" so my first task was to make them feel like that. I quickly found that you need to set up a rapport, within five minutes or so, with your patients. I would come in, ask how they were, tell them I was a student and I would be taking care of them all day and if they needed anything to call me and I would get it taken care of. During this time I was assessing. Color, breathing, touch the feet for pulses, look over the room for proximity of items, O2 tubing, IV lines etc. This portion gets more and more natural as you go on in your career.
The point here is combining tasks. Chat and assess. Ask about pain and immediate needs. Then let them know you have a few others to see and will be back shortly with the next task (meds, bath, etc). Think about it as a waitress. You stop by, ask the table how they are, assess drinks and needs, address quick questions about the menu, and then let them know you will be back in a few minutes.
Do this with all of your patients, spending 5-10 minutes per room and you have a rapport, a commitment, and a handful of early information.
Now look at what is next. Do you need to get drinks (medications) or is there 30 minutes to do your assessments? Let's say one patient needs meds before 8 and it is 7:55, then rest have 9 am meds. Grab your stethoscope and the early med and head in. Do your head to toe assessment, reassess needs (how is your meal), and then head to the med room for the next priority patient. If someone calls out in the middle for pain meds, finish your assessment, then go deal with the pain med. Stop into the room of the patient with pain and let them know you are going to get their meds, while assessing their pain level so you know what to bring in.
My jist here is nursing/clinicals is about combining steps. Just like when you do a dressing change you don't want to run out of the room for each supply individually. You assess the wound, look at what supplies were used before, then let your patient know you are going to gather your stuff (get the salad, appetizer).
Also creating a one page sheet where you can track the more tasky aspects, med times, glucose checks, is very helpful. Have all your patients on one page so you can quickly see where you need to move to next. Look at what the nurses on your unit use for this "brain sheet" and then create one entirely your own. Make sure it works for you. I used to have a grid for each patient with times and then I would highlight times when meds were due. That was a small part of it, but for me it gave me a fast visual cue as to where I needed to be next.
As far as your instructor, don't take his/her issues personally. Instructors are overwhelmed with students who are entering a demanding field with little experience and confidence. I had an instructor that failed a student because she broke down at the bedside of a patient with stress. This gal is a nurse now and all is well. I learned that day that I had to just move on and show I could handle. Prior to this I had been flunked by a clinical instructor for not being focused enough. It held me back an entire semester, however I went on to mentor the next class and do much better, learning more, because I had created a better environment in my life to support being able to focus on school (working during school and dealing with kicking a roommate out is taxing).
If your instructors aren't giving you good feedback, look to other students. Who in your class appears to be moving smoothly through clinicals Ask them what their system is. Ask to see their organizational style. Perhaps in the end you will find, like me, they did better in clinical than they did in class, and there can be some kind of educational swap. Your brain sheet for my ability to take the tests/learn the info.
Hopefully this makes sense. I was a waitress all through school and felt it taught me how to manage clinicals the same way.
Best of luck,