skeber - Good luck starting in May. That is when I started and I will be entirely finished this August!!
The books that I bought/used for 501 are: Potter & Perry (you will use this every semester - hang onto it); Ladwig Nursing Diagnosis book (you will use every semester), Drug Book (every semester used again), Med-Surg book by Lewis (you will use it again for your 2nd Med Surg class), & the lab book. Most of these books are super useful for your clinicals so I would hang onto all of them as I have definitely referenced them since. If you aren't sure or are nervous about doing mind maps - buy a book or do some research on your own about working on mind maps. I felt that is the only area that wasn't covered well enough for me to feel confident. Of course now I feel like I could do them in my sleep. Anyway, your first clinical won't be until August - so there is plenty of time for that.
Who is your professor for 501? That will make a big difference. This is your first NCLEX-style test - so I would recommend googling "Fundamentals NCLEX questions" prior to the test so you have an idea of what you're looking at. The content is not hard, but getting used to choosing the best answer out of 4-5 correct answers is a strange thing... that some are still trying to master! You will also have Health Assessment which is SOOOOO useful because you will use it everyday! And it is really fun. The tests are not bad in this class - straight memorization and a lot of common sense. For your research course and your professional roles course - get as many of those projects out of the way AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE because they will consume your time when you should be studying for tests! And, finally, patho is just plain tough for some people. There is a lot of content in this course so I would recommend focusing on the clinical manifestations and labs if they are provided. Otherwise, group as many things together as possible when you study. If you are a flashcard kind of person - this class and pharm are where you can really benefit from those I think.
Like I said - I am finishing up my third semester (which everyone says is the hardest) so I can answer any questions you might have! Best of luck and congrats - it is going to be a craaazy 15 months!!! :-D