Heather A. Smith, PA-C, MMSc

Heather A. Smith, PA-C, MMSc
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Heather A. Smith, PA-C, MMSc

  • Physician Assistant, Fred Hutch
  • Teaching Associate, Division of Medical Oncology, University of Washington School of Medicine
  • Physician Assistant, UW Medicine

“Working at Fred Hutch 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.”

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 Fred Hutch.

Diseases Treated

Blood Disorders




Education, Experience and Certifications

Undergraduate Degree
Oberlin College

Medical Degree
Emory University

Board Certification
Physician Assistant, 2013, National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants

MMSc, Emory University PA Program


Seattle Met's 2022 Top Doctors award
Heather has received this peer-nominated award for her exceptional patient care multiple years in a row.

Clinical Trials

We make promising new treatments available to you through studies called clinical trials led by Fred Hutch doctors. Many of these trials at Fred Hutch 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 Fred Hutch, you receive care from a team of providers with extensive experience in your disease. Your team includes doctors, a patient care 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.


Fred Hutch 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 the Media

The Media Relations team at Fred Hutch is available to assist members of the news media who would like to arrange interviews with providers.

Email media@fredhutch.org or call 206.667.2210