Top Doctor Top Doctor
The Top Doctor award is a peer-nominated award for providers who give exceptional care.

Heather A. Smith, PA-C, MMSc

Physician Assistant
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
Teaching Associate, Division of Medical Oncology
University of Washington School of Medicine
Physician Assistant
UW Medicine
“Working at SCCA and seeing all of the new therapies available for patients fuels my optimism.”
— Heather
Tell us about an interaction with a patient that has had an impact on you.

One day, I was paged because a patient of mine with leukemia had spiked a fever. Coupled with a low white blood cell count, the fever was dangerous. Within 30 minutes, we arranged for the patient to be taken to the infusion room, where a nurse and I could take care of him: testing for pathogens in his blood, starting antibiotics and admitting him to the hospital. This sequence of events was the standard of care for his situation, nothing out of the ordinary. But what stood out to me was the sense of cooperation, compassion, grace and efficiency the entire medical team demonstrated. Everyone did their part perfectly, and all I could think was, “If I were having a medical emergency, I would want these people taking care of me.”

Smith-secondary.jpg
What has shaped your approach to patient care?

When my father was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, I became his full-time caregiver. It was not an easy role. I had to gently refute his claims that he was fine — eating, drinking and walking enough — when that was clearly not the case. He would ignore the recommendations I made, only to do a sudden reversal when his doctor repeated the very same recommendation. Once I experienced cancer care as a daughter and a caregiver, I realized how a diagnosis affects the whole family. As a result, I focus on being present with my patients and those who are caring for them, listening to their fears, hopes and expectations.

Provider background

General medical oncology

I am a board-certified physician assistant with more than 15 years of experience caring for patients. Currently, I focus on treating a variety of oncologic and hematologic conditions, from blood disorders to bone and breast cancers, among many others. I also collaborate with research staff on clinical trials, seeing patients, documenting physical exam findings and assessing lab results. My background includes working on the Investigational Biologics Safety Committee, where I helped review research protocols involving biologic agents (such as antibodies or vaccines) at SCCA.

Diseases treated

Education, experience and certifications
Undergraduate Degree
Oberlin College
Medical Degree
Emory University
Board Certification
Physician Assistant, 2013, National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants
Other
MMSc, Emory University PA Program
Languages
English
Awards
Seattle Met's 2021 Top Doctors award

Heather has received this peer-nominated award multiple times for her exceptional patient care.

Testimonials

“Heather is an outstanding physician assistant, with a broad, in-depth fund of knowledge that allows her to contribute phenomenal insights that improve patient care. She provides superb, comprehensive, and compassionate care.”
— Pamela Becker, MD, PhD
“Heather Smith is everything I aspire to be professionally. She is direct, honest, knowledgeable and level-headed. She is an amazing team player who has the strength to support both her patients and colleagues. ”
— Katie Russell, ARNP

Research

Clinical trials

We make promising new treatments available to you through studies called clinical trials led by SCCA doctors. Many of these trials at SCCA have led to FDA-approved treatments and have improved standards of care globally. Together, you and your doctor can decide if a study is right for you.

Your care team

At SCCA, you receive care from a team of providers with extensive experience in your disease. Your team includes doctors, a team coordinator, a registered nurse, an advanced practice provider and others, based on your needs. You also have access to experts like nutritionists, social workers, acupuncturists, psychiatrists and more who specialize in supporting people with cancer or blood disorders.
Registered nurse (RN)
Registered nurse (RN)
Your nurse manages your care alongside your physician and assists with care procedures and treatments.
Team coordinator (TC)
Team coordinator (TC)
Your team coordinator works closely with you and your physician and serves as your scheduler.

Insurance

SCCA accepts most national private health insurance plans as well as Medicare. We also accept Medicaid for people from Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. We are working to ensure that everyone, no matter what their financial situation, has access to the care they need.

For providers