Faculty Spotlight: Charles Vanderwarf

Charles Vanderwarf

Charles Vanderwarf
Program: Respiratory Care

While finishing his last year of college, Charles Vanderwarf was working at Loyola University's Medical Center when the Respiratory Department offered him a job as an assistant.

"I had been cleaning surgical and respiratory equipment," he explained. "When I became an assistant, I discovered a profession that melded my nerdy, technical side with my interest in biology and physiology."

Vanderwarf completed his bachelor's degree and continued working at Loyola while becoming a respiratory therapist through a program at the University of Chicago. From there, he became a department educator, assistant director and then manager for 10 years.

In 1992, he began teaching part-time at College of DuPage at the request of Ken Bretl, the now-retired Respiratory Care program coordinator.

"Since holding my position as Educator at Loyola, I discovered that I really enjoyed teaching," Vanderwarf said. "I would instruct respiratory staff, nurses and residents on critical care aspects of respiratory care.

"At COD, I tell my students in their first class that I have two goals: to teach them to pass their national board exam and to 'not kill grandma.' What I mean is that the students will have to acquire an extensive technical knowledge base in order to pass their exams, but they must also learn to apply that knowledge safely and appropriately."

Vanderwarf, now a full-time faculty member at COD, draws inspiration from Dr. Patrick Fahey, medical director of the Respiratory Care Department at Loyola.

"He taught me to look past the limitations in the profession, which opened the door to involvement in medical research, teaching and professional speaking," he said.

More about the Respiratory Care program