Faculty Spotlight – Dr. Neil Chadha




Dr. Neil Chadha

Clinical Associate Professor, Otolaryngology, UBC






  1. Why did Dr. Chadha pursue a career in medicine?

From a very young age, the idea of becoming a doctor appealed to Dr. Chadha. While he changed his mind about career options a few times while growing up, he always returned to medicine.

  1. What was it that attracted him to Otolaryngology specifically?

He enjoyed the technical and anatomical aspects of all surgeries but took a particular interest in Otolaryngology because of the variation that exists within the one discipline – it is really 4-5 quite different surgical specialties rolled into one, linked together by the location in the body. An additional draw was the variation in the age range of the patient population – though he ultimately decided that he enjoyed working with children the most, and pursued a subspecialty in Pediatric Otolaryngology.

  1. What does he consider to be the biggest advance in Otolaryngology since he started practicing?

Dr. Chadha reflected that ear, nose and throat procedures are often able to benefit from any of the new surgical advances such as lasers, high definition imaging, specialized implants and mechanical blades and drills. However, the biggest advance he’s witnessed is the increased application of endoscopy. Minimally invasive procedures enable surgeons to do more through the existing orifices, reducing the size of the cuts needed and ultimately number of complications.

  1. Chadha has a strong research background. He has a Masters Degree in Population Health & Epidemiology from the University of Manchester. He has received a number of research related awards as well. How has his research influenced any changes in the health care system?

Dr. Chadha gives two examples of studies that have been completed with help from UBC summer students. In the first, Dr. Chadha looked at the reliability of clinical tonsil size grading in children. They graded tonsil sizes using different scales that exist in the literature. However, their study found that one of the scales offered a superior level of reliability than the others and supported the uniform use of this scale in future clinical and research work.

Dr. Chadha has also influenced clinical practice through a randomized control trial. The purpose of the study was to compare the degree of pain experienced by children undergoing nasal endoscopy using different nasal preparations. To attempt to minimize discomfort of passing a thin fiberoptic endoscope through the nasal cavity, many Otolaryngologists had been administering an intranasal spray before the procedure. His study revealed no statistically significant difference in the discomfort experienced by children undergoing flexible nasendoscopy after placebo, a decongestant, or a decongestant combined with a topical local anesthetic. This work was very well-received at an international meeting.

  1. In 2012, Dr. Chadha was the recipient of a teaching award. What does he find the most rewarding about teaching learners?

Dr. Chadha is early in his career and is beginning to see the first residents he helped trained from the beginning, enter into practice. He finds it truly gratifying to have witnessed someone go from a junior resident requiring much supervision and training develop into an independent Otolaryngologist and skilled colleague. For some of his own skills, he distinctly remembers which surgeon taught him the specific procedure or techniques and hopes that he’s had a similar impact on some of the medical tudents, Residents and Fellows he has trained.

  1. Chadha did the majority of his training in the UK. If there was one thing BC could learn from their health care system, what would he say it is?

A challenge faced by the UK and Canadian healthcare systems are that they are stretched for resources given they are both publicly funded. The UK has evolved into a target-based medical system, which much of decision-making about resource allocation taken away from physicians. Not only has this caused a physician engagement issues but the negative impact of these approaches may not be recognized. Hopefully BC can avoid falling into this trap.

  1. When not practicing medicine or doing research, where can we find him?

Dr. Chadha is an avid soccer player and has a more recent interest in half marathons. He enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife and two kids, whether it is rock climbing, skiing or hiking. He really enjoys the working atmosphere at BC Children’s Hospital and feels grateful to be raising his family in such a beautiful city.