Community Impact

Nursing student’s rotation at Randall brings him back to familiar surroundings

March 22, 2024

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Image of Peter Tran posing in front of Randall Childrens Hospital

Peter Tran walked through the doors at Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel in January dressed in scrubs, ready and excited to start his pediatric nursing rotation. The feelings and emotions for the 22-year-old nursing student at George Fox University were drastically different from the ones he felt four years ago.

Back then as a 17-year-old junior at Centennial High School, he faced a daunting and scary future – five rounds of chemotherapy and 35 radiation treatments for the cancerous lump found on his neck.

“I’ve met people who went through treatment the same time I did, and they said they never want to come back to Randall,” Peter said. “Randall was my top choice for my capstone rotation.”

A permanent nursing position at Randall is also Peter’s dream job when he graduates in April 2024. It would be a fitting end to a journey that began filled with uncertainty.

The lump first appeared on Peter’s neck in 2018. Initially, he didn’t give it much thought. Time went on, though, and the lump never went away. His pediatrician suspected it was a blood clot. But after a while, that guess didn’t make sense.

Photo of Peter Tran smiling
Months later, doctors performed a biopsy on the lump. Then came the waiting.

“I had Googled my symptoms for a while and cancer was always last on the list of possibilities,” he said. “My dad was praying that it wasn’t cancer. I wouldn’t say the word.”

Sitting in his pediatrician’s office with his father, the doctor delivered the news - nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Peter said he was in shock. Neither of them said much. They left the doctor’s office and darted into a nearby restroom. Reality hit home.

“We were both sobbing,” Peter said. “It felt unreal.”

Peter’s routine suddenly took on a much different cadence. A week of chemotherapy followed by a two-week break. Rinse and repeat five times. Then came 35 days of radiation. The days of missing class started adding up. Classmates frequently asked where he’d been. Halfway through radiation treatment Peter’s skin started peeling.
Image of Peter Tran walking down a hallway, holding a green clipboard
“It was hard to deal with that self-image,” he said. “You don’t look normal, and people look at you differently.”

He took off the spring term of his junior year. It wasn’t just classes he was missing, but those annual rites of high school.

“I missed the prom my junior year,” he said. “I remember being in the hospital that week.”

Peter managed to maintain his academic schedule with the help of tutors and a quick recovery from the cancer treatment. He graduated high school on time and began classes at George Fox. Peter knew he wanted to work in health care before leaving for college. His experience at Randall helped narrow those career options.

“During my treatment, I decided I wanted to go into nursing,” he said. “The nurses at Randall saw me beyond being a patient. They saw me as a whole person, my interests, my passions. That sparked my hope for future patients.”
Photo of Peter Tran in a hospital room, with a hand on the side of the bed

Peter worked alongside a preceptor during his rotation at Randall. The rotation reinforced the technical and medical training he had received in school. But it also gave him insight into how to communicate with patients and their families.

At times, he remembers flashing back four years ago to when he was a patient.

“When I was a patient, I was pretty tired and out of it,” he said. “During my rotation, I saw how much effort goes into being a nurse.”

Occasionally, Peter would slip down a floor to visit with the doctors and nurses who treated him.

“Being able to reconnect with them was great,” Peter said.

Given time, Peter now sees his experience as a Randall patient as an asset for his new career.

“My other rotations went well, but this felt like a calling at Randall,” Peter said. “I wanted to soak up every moment I could. I hope I get to come back as a full-time nurse. I feel like having gone through what I’ve gone through as a patient will help me connect with the kiddos and their families.”

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