Hi, I'm from Maine and I've been a nurse since 1981.
I've worked in all sorts of different settings.
What I did was work as a "candystriper" (now they just call them "volunteers", lot more dignified, ha ha) the summer after my Freshman year in HS. I did a couple of other jobs, waitressing, then after graduating from HS I worked as a nurses' aide.
I kind of knew I wanted to be a nurse when I was in 9th grade, but working as a nurses' aide was really good for helping me see if I thrived in that environment or not.
You know what? I was basically a "C" student in HS. I wasn't all that thrilled with anything but English classes then. Really wasn't all that great in math OR science!
But for some reason when I got into nursing school
, something happened. I got smart, or my brain woke up, or something - I got mostly "A's" and I did well in clinicals.
As to University vs other programs, I don't know. I went to a 3 year diploma program which there aren't many of nowadays. Back in the day (81) diploma nurses had about 75% more clinical training than the BS graduates. Forgive me college grads if I am wrong. While working however I have found that the Bachelor's nurses are EXCELLENT in the long AND short haul; I TOTALLY respect their training! But really, I think the measure of the nurse is in that person's heart, not the training. If they HAVE the heart, they WANT to learn to do the best nursing care possible!
I would STRONGLY recommend getting some training as a nurses' aide, see if you can stomach it (not everyone can and don't feel bad if you don't - there are many ways of helping people!). Most facilities will train you themselves, and hire you right after. I'm not sure about nationally but in Maine the course is paid for by the facility.
That's cool that you had the initiative and foresight to seek a source such as this, it shows that you really care about making the right decision, for you AND your patients.
It's a rough life, and it's a rewarding life. Nothing like that shiver you get when you REALLY KNOW that you have made some difference - healing, allaying fears, or just letting the person know that you see a PERSON in the bed. Letting them know you want to make their treatment as pleasant, non-intrusive, and personal as you possibly can. And knowing, when you take their hand at the end of the day, that you were able to accomplish this in some small way.
God bless you and I really hope for the best for you!