THIS SOUNDS SO MUCH LIKE MY HOSPITAL IT'S SCARY. Our high turnover rate (due to being underpaid) has led to chronic understaffing, which makes them hire new grads like crazy. I was brand new when I started and after orientation it was the worst flu season California had seen in YEARS. Just like WiseAtHart, none of us had a lunch break for months, we always had a full patient load, and our overflow chairs were more dangerous than useful.
Something that always stuck with me was when other RNs I worked with (including my preceptor) told me, "if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere," and that was the truth.
As time went on, I became a stronger nurse. Critical thinking and time management take time to build, don't be too hard on yourself. If you have the option of picking your schedule, I would try to see what days the more experienced nurses work and try to get those days. At least you'll be able to pick their brains and they'll be there to help when something critical goes down.
As far as violence goes, I would notify the charge RN and security immediately. If nothing else, they can stand by and watch your back if these people escalate. The security guards I work with regularly try to deescalate these types of patients. If they continue to be violent, it's either discharge, AMA, or restraints. Document everything, I mean every single word they say, all the ***** and the gestures. That way, you cover your *** and every other medical professional reading the chart will be warned about what kind of person they're dealing with.
DO NOT tolerate patients who try to hurt you. I know many nurses will say it's just part of the job and you'll learn to deal with it- but that's total bs. Do no harm, but take no ***!
No one can blame you for leaving if you do, but I encourage you to keep going. Coming from someone who started as a new grad in this environment and a preceptor to many other new nurses, I promise we all feel this way in the beginning. Remember, the end goal of the ER is to prevent death or permanent disability. If you keep your patients alive and prevent them from degrading, you have done your job and shouldn't feel like you are less than worthy for your unit. Will all of your patients be happy, pain free, and not hungry? Hardly ever, but that does not mean you are a bad nurse. The fact that you care, hesitate, and realize the dangers shows you have the core potential to be a great ER nurse. Don't give up