I have the somewhat unique position of being in the no-man's land between nursing school and real world nursing: I have a whopping 3 months of nursing experience under my belt. Well, 2.5, but I can round up, okay? A few months ago, I was a note-writing, clinical-attending, nclex-studying student. Now I'm a full-fledged RN, which is sort of blowing.
As such, I had a few thoughts to share with you.
First, like I said, don't let others bring you down. You have enough to worry about--you're learning to be healers!--without concerning yourself with the opinions of others. There will be nurses, at clinicals and maybe even some on this site, who seem to have been born nurses...and I don't mean that it was their destiny, but that they seem unable to remember going through what you are now going through, and they definitely seem unable to relate. Go to clinical and try your hardest anyway. If someone makes you feel badly for being a student, store that away and use it as motivation when you need it. Prove them wrong. That was honestly my biggest struggle in school--what if so-and-so doesn't think I can be a nurse?! So-and-so's opinion is not the be all, end all of who will be a good nurse.
Second, don't let yourself get too wrapped up in who got what grade. I managed to pull off pretty solid grades on most of my exams, but I remember getting down because I was quietly excited about my 90% while the girl next to me was telling anyone who would listen about her 98%. Try your hardest, but realize that answering every question right is not what you study for. You study so that you can care for people, which is not something everyone gets the chance to do.
Third, jump in at clinical. I missed out on trying out new skills because I was terrified of doing it wrong. Clinical is a time for you to get hands-on learning. Meaning, you can't learn it if you don't get hands-on. It's scary, yes, but it's also just about the safest, most protected environment to learn it in. Your instructor will appreciate the initiative you're taking, and your patient will appreciate that you're taking the time to learn how to do things the right way. Just try it. There are few feelings that match what it's like to get your first successful IV start. (I'm pretty certain I squealed and had a smile on my face for the next hour or two). And if you don't get it the first try, ask what you could've done better or where you went wrong. That's what your instructor is there for. And if your instructor isn't around when you need an answer, try asking a nurse on that floor. Some of the best tips I received during clinical were from people other than my instructor.
Finally, don't set your mind too much on what speciality you'll go into after school. Otherwise, you may run the risk of painting yourself into a corner. Or, you may just be flat out wrong. I can tell you, I swore up and down I would work in pediatrics because "adults weren't for me". Guess what? I work in the ICU and have yet to see anyone under age 25 on my floor. Guess what else? I have never felt happier or more fulfilled in my work. That being said, don't let anyone tell you that new nurses can't work in this or that specialty. There aren't set rules for most areas, and there are usually exceptions. My hospital just hired its first new grads in L&D and it's going swimmingly. If it's your dream, go for it. The worst that can happen is a no, and you can try again until you end up where you're supposed to be.
Nursing school isn't for everyone, that's simply how it is. But, if it is for you, then THIS is for you.
A shiny new nurse