First off - Congratulations!!!
and welcome to L&D.
Can't help you with spec exams as I work in a small hospital and our MDs feel that nurses should not be doing those, AROMs, FECGs, IUPCs..... They should be doing them.
IV starts - 1. Learn how to use lidocaine, it makes the experience so much better for the patient - esp. the needle phobics out there. Most hospitals do have a policy that allows lidocaine for IV starts so you don't have to get a specific order for it, but do check on it.
2. Try and get a day down in surgery where they start IVs all day on many people. They are probably the ones that can teach you how to use the lidocaine as well.
3. When looking for a vein and not having much luck:
a. wrap the arm in warm blankets for several minutes
b. have patient laying a little flatter, helps to plump up the veins
c. have the patient dangle the arm off the edge of the bed
4. Develop your own 'ritual' for starting IVs. Get your equipment out and ready, rip off your tape and have it close, etc...
5. GO IN WITH CONFIDENCE - in other words, fake it till you make it. You WILL get the IV in on the first try.
Depending on what type of IVs you are using, there are some special techniques that work better with some IVs than others. We switched from Jelcos to Accuvances and all had to change our technique a little bit with the new IVs. With Jelcos you can feel the 'pop' when you get into the vein and have to go in at a little steeper angle than with the accuvances.
And, practice makes perfect. There are still times when even the most experienced nurse cannot get an IV in - it just seems to go that way. The more you do it, the easier it will get and the more confident you will feel. Until then, fake it till you make it.