“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.”
Dr. Smith remembers one breast cancer patient in particular. An elderly woman who had no family support nearby, she was driving to treatments and managing her home life – including her beloved dogs – on her own. The patient was reluctant to undergo breast surgery because she had no one to care for her dogs during her recovery.
“When we discovered this patient’s concern,” remembers Dr. Smith, “our team helped her find someone who would care for her dogs after surgery.”
Dr. Smith has published widely in her field. She has also contributed to her profession by serving as a clinical professor at her alma mater.
“Working with residents helps keep you at the top of your game,” Dr. Smith says. “If you’re going to teach something, you really have to know it well.”
Welcome to Yavapai County
Dr. Smith begins seeing patients on October 4, 2021, the first Monday of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“Welcoming Dr. Smith to our community is the best possible way to recognize National Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” says Ken Boush, Director of Marketing and Communications at Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC). “She’s a skilled surgeon and very experienced at supporting patients as they manage the complexities of a breast cancer diagnosis.”
For Dr. Smith, her new role at YRMG, Breast Surgery is part of her lifelong journey.
“I consider this my mission,” she says. “This is what God has called me to do and I’m very grateful for the opportunity. It’s a blessing.”
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Smith, contact:
Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Group, Breast Surgery
7700 East Florentine Road
Building B, Suite 203
Prescott Valley, Arizona 86314