“The practice of medicine is a calling in which your heart will be exercised equally with your head.”
These words were spoken more than 100 years ago by a physician known as the founder of modern medicine. Yet, even today, they perfectly describe the experience of LaNette Smith, MD, an accomplished breast surgeon who is joining Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Group, Breast Surgery.
“There’s a passion in the people who care for patients at the Breast Care Center and YRMG Breast Surgery,” says Dr. Smith. “They bring a combination of compassion and enthusiasm to their work that’s familiar to me. I immediately felt at home with their approach to patient care.”
Called to Care
Dr. Smith’s journey to the medical profession began at an early age. As a child, she admired the family practice physician who cared for people in the small town in which she was raised. During high school, she volunteered at that physician’s clinic to learn more about the world of medicine.
“I enjoyed the relationship the doctor had with his patients and the way he helped them,” says Dr. Smith. “It felt like my calling.”
Dr. Smith pursued her calling at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine—Tulsa, where she earned a medical degree and embarked on a medical residency. Her excellent fine motor skills led her to specialize in surgery, a high-energy specialty that would also expose her to new technologies and techniques. And, there were the patients. An empathetic listener and effective communicator – like the doctor in her hometown – Dr. Smith understood the importance of the physician-patient relationship.
Specializing in Breast Surgery
During her five-year surgical residency, Dr. Smith became the preferred surgeon for patients diagnosed with breast cancer.
“Breast surgery patients are different from most surgical patients,” Dr. Smith explains. “You form a long-term relationship with them, you share life experiences, and of course, you surgically care for them. All of these aspects of care are important to me as a breast surgeon.”
While she was gaining general surgical experience during her residency, Dr. Smith also wanted to be specifically prepared to care for patients – women and men – facing breast cancer. The best way to accomplish this, she decided, was through a breast surgery fellowship. At the time, there were only 11 such fellowships in the nation. She decided to join one at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock.
Treating the Whole Patient
During her years as a breast surgeon, Dr. Smith has experienced what it means to treat the whole patient.
“I listen to patients and am respectful of their desires,” she says. “I give them good, accurate medical information to help guide their decisions. In fact, I’ve probably spent more time counseling patients and involved in social discussions related to care than I have in surgery.”
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