UW MEDEX Founder Dr. Richard A. Smith Honored by President Obama

By:   February 2, 2017


On January 1st, 2017, President Barack Obama honored Richard A. Smith, MD, a founding father of the Physician Assistant profession, for his many contributions in the areas of PA education, racial desegregation and global health.  Dr. Smith has devoted his lifetime to the cause of improving access to basic healthcare in urban, rural and underserved communities across the United States and around the world.

During the final weeks of the President’s 8-year term, Dr. Smith and close family members were invited to the Obama compound in Kailua Beach, Oahu in Hawaii. At the left Rik B. Smith, MD, flanks his father, Richard A. Smith, MD, in the official White House photographer image. Another son, Blake A. Smith, MD, stands to the right of the President with his wife Joanie. President Obama is seen holding their daughter, Sienna. During the late 1970s, Rik Smith attended Punahou preparatory school with Barack Obama.

Dr. Richard Smith has been a resident of Honolulu since 1973, after he established the MEDEX program at the University of Washington in Seattle. He devoted the next twenty years to replicating the Physician Assistant model as “MEDEX International” in over 30 developing countries including Micronesia, Thailand, Guyana, Lesotho and Pakistan.

In recent years, Dr. Smith has survived two bouts with cancer. Despite these health challenges, his legacy and the importance of his work grows with time, in light of the fact that the US now benefits from close to 100,000 practicing Physician Assistants.

To learn more about the early life of Dr. Richard A. Smith and the founding of MEDEX Northwest, go to https://goo.gl/fuZfID.

Dennis Raymond is the Communications Manager for MEDEX Northwest in Seattle, Washington. He can be reached at medexcom@uw.edu.