Meet Terese C. Hammond, MD, assistant professor of clinical medicine in the division of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine, Department of Medicine, Keck School of Medicine of USC and director, USC Sleep Disorders Center.

Dr. Hammond is a critical care doctor who specializes in pulmonary disease and sleep medicine. Here’s what you won’t find on her resume:

She doesn’t take sleep for granted.

“People continually sacrifice sleep for the party, the deadline, the office and the kids. But thinking that they can catch-up on sleep is false economy. There are people who claim they need less sleep, but the majority of us require seven to eight hours of sleep a night for long-term health benefits and better productivity.”

Mentors are important to her.

“Dr. Zea Borok, chief of the division, placed an ad in the journal, Chest, for a position here at USC. She has a Boston University connection, which gave us a common ground, but beyond that, I was convinced to come west because Dr. Borok has a transformative vision. Keck Medicine of USC is evolving, and our division is evolving with it because of her influence and determination. For example, Keck Medicine will offer two sleep fellowships for the first time in July 2014.”

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Her interest in sleep was serendipitous.

“I was involved in clinical sleep research during my fellowship at Boston University, but never thought I would practice sleep medicine. When I started at Emerson Hospital, a community hospital in Massachusetts, the other sleep physician went on sabbatical, and I was asked to step in. I continued in sleep because I developed an appreciation for its profound effect on overall health.”

She took some detours before medicine.

“As a teenager, I was the editor of the school paper and even wrote for the local newspaper. I thought I might become a journalist. Later on, I was a stockbroker. I entered medicine later in life. For me, a career in medicine isn’t just a job; it’s a choice to care for people.”

Her English grandmother was an early influence.

“I was born in England. My grandmother was a nursing assistant who cared for me during the day and worked at night. She influenced me about the importance of caring for people. Our family moved to Indiana when I was young. I went to school in Missouri and Boston, so I am a full-fledged Yankee.”

She was in the Army.

“Most people don’t know that I enlisted as a medic in the U.S. Army. I was booted out under the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, the controversial 1993 policy established by the Clinton Administration that banned gay military personnel from serving openly.”

She has embraced the California lifestyle.

“I had a milestone birthday this year and am convinced that 50 is the new 30! I have taken surfing lessons and scuba classes. My daughter and I have taken up rock climbing. I am sure everyone wonders why I have all these bruises! My goal is to be rock climbing at Joshua Tree National Park by next year.”

Dr. Terese C. Hammond is the director of the USC Sleep Disorders Center.

Click here to view Dr. Hammond’s full biography.