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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Respiratory Therapy Program Director gives students more than a gentle push in the right direction

June 14, 2016
Temecula Respiratory Therapy program director Tanner Bliss
RT Program Director Tanner Bliss wants his students to be fully prepared to give patients the high level of care they deserve.

Tanner Bliss watched too many Respiratory Therapists in local hospitals giving less than their chosen profession – and their patients – deserved. “A big part of why I got into teaching was seeing respiratory therapists there for a paycheck, more than anything. I wanted to impact the next generation of therapists by influencing students to try to be their best.”

As Respiratory Therapy (RT) Program Director for SJVC’s Temecula campus, Tanner is in the perfect position to bring the full force of his ambition into play, as he educates and grooms students toward highest professional standards.

“As hard as we push them (respiratory therapy students), we want them to know that they can do this, they can accomplish this,” says Bliss. “By the time they get to the end and realize that they did do it, they can do anything.”

“Mr. Bliss makes sure his students understand the concepts that are taught and he will NOT give up on you,” says Tierra Norris, RT student. “He is a great motivator and it is clear that he wants his students to strive for success.”

Tanner has a lot of empathy and understanding for his students. Maybe that is because it was not that many years ago that he was a Respiratory Therapy student on SJVC’s Rancho Cucamonga campus (now Ontario), striving to master that which he now teaches.

“Here is someone who was an excellent student in our RT Program and showed great promise as a dedicated, compassionate and very smart student,” says Ricardo Guzman, Respiratory Therapy Program Director at the Ontario campus. “Tanner is one of the greatest examples of what is possible when a person gives all of themselves to their profession. He continues to inspire us, and his story is one we often share with our students.”

Tanner enjoys watching his students go through the same paces he once walked so successfully. He is excited by the changes in them as they steadily progress. “When you see the light in their eyes when they accomplish something, or when they come back from clinic and they are able to see things in action that they have been taught and feel good because they were able to handle it well – that’s really fun.”

Tanner is especially proud that his students stand out to clinic supervisors and peers alike. “Employers are giving high marks to all our graduates,” he says.

For all the students’ lives he is touching, Tanner’s career very nearly veered into a different direction.

“I was trying to figure out what kind of doctor I wanted to be and my brother Edward (a Respiratory Therapist) recommended this as a stepping stone. When I got into it, I realized that I didn’t want to be a doctor and have a pager attached to my hip. I have not one regret.”

No matter what career path Tanner might have taken, he was certain to bring a few important characteristics along with him. His parents Rand and Valerie gave him fine examples to emulate.

“My dad has always been a hard worker and he showed me how to be a hard worker,” says Tanner. “He is a machinist and has worked 60 hours a week, almost as long as I’ve known him. My mom has been a good example as far as bringing out one of my personality traits; being kind of even-keeled and mild tempered.”

Tanner’s wife, Michelle and sons Zayden (2) and Corban (1 month) make home the best place to be at the end of his day. “Before kids, there was plenty of hiking, camping and outdoor stuff,” says Tanner. Parenthood has shifted those activities a bit. “It’s a lot of fun, but it would be nice to get some sleep again,” he laughs.

Tanner has a few quotes at the ready to help his students get through some rough patches. One of his favorites that might help him through his own current moment of parenthood might work: “When a hurricane comes your way, enjoy the breeze.”