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Soumya Adhikari, M.D.

Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Director of Medical Student Education (Pediatrics)
Department of Pediatrics

Soumya Adhikari, M.D.

Secondary Contact

Ben Lee, M.D.
Associate Professor of Pediatrics

Email Anthony Lee to schedule a meeting.

About the Specialty

A pediatrician is a medical doctor who specializes in providing medical care to children from birth until adulthood. They not only diagnose and treat children’s ailments but also try to help them maintain good health throughout their lives. As a pediatrician, almost every door is open to you. Whether you're interested in a career in office-based practice, hospital-based practice, subspecialty practice, intensive care, public policy, basic science research, clinical research, procedures, no procedures, or something else, almost any niche can be found as long as there is a passion for working with children!

Answers to Common Questions

  • Attributes of a Competitive Student

    What factors typically make a student competitive for this specialty?

    A passion for children’s health and a desire to make something better. This can mean so many things, which is part of the appeal of the field. One person might have a passion for studying the genetic origins of congenital heart disease, and another for seatbelt use and accident prevention and another for health literacy, and all three might be received as great candidates by a residency program for very different reasons. Quality over quantity. Depth of involvement in a few things really shows your passions and can come across as much more impressive than superficial involvement in a litany of activities.

  • Research

    How important is research experience in your specialty? If important, does it need to be in the specialty itself?

    Not crucial. What’s important is a passion. If a career in scholarly investigation is part of your future plans, then getting involved in research now would certainly be a plus. But “research” can mean so many things – certainly not just benchwork. Public health research, accident prevention research, quality improvement research, etc., all could qualify. A scholarly predisposition is crucial. Papers and evidence of involvement in research, less so.

  • Shadowing

    How can students identify opportunities for shadowing?

    Contact the Student Interest Group student leaders for information on shadowing.

    Additional suggestions for how students can learn more about your specialty. Contact Anthony Lee (214-456-2729, or via Outlook) to set up an individual advising session. Scour our online resources. Read the AAP brochure on “Becoming a Pediatrician.” Think carefully about how you’d like to portray yourself to prospective programs to distinguish yourself from other applicants. Remember that your passion for kids is not the thing to highlight in your application. Meaning of course you have a passion for working with children. And that differentiates you from everyone in your class applying to other fields. But the task in front of you now is to differentiate yourself from everyone else applying to Pediatrics.

  • Electives

    What electives would you recommend to a student who is interested in pursuing your specialty?

    There’s no best answer to this and this is probably best answered in a one-on-one advising session. Having said that, a couple of philosophies rise to the surface: One’s MS4 year is a great opportunity to look in the mirror, assess your strengths and weaknesses, and strive to grow. Throw yourself outside of your comfort zone. It is your last chance for truly responsibility-free (or near free) learning. Take advantage of it.

    Based on your experience, what tips do you have for students to shine on your electives?

    Don’t strive to “shine.” Strive to improve. Be available. Be engaged. Be adaptable to the unpredictable environment of the children’s hospital. Be intellectually curious. Not for anyone else to see, but for your own betterment. Be genuine. Strive to make a difference and to do well. Trust that the “shine” will be recognized.

  • Away Rotations

    Does your specialty recommend doing away rotations?

    This too is better answered on an individual basis. As a general rule, no. But depending on your goals and priorities, an away rotation might make a lot of sense for you. Let’s chat.

    If away rotations are necessary, when should they apply and when should they be completed?

    VSAS applications open in April. Apply early. Plan to do them in a July-October time frame if you are considering them.

  • Interview Timing

    Which month do you recommend taking off to interview?

    Take Block 6 (December) off. Take something light in blocks 5 and 7 that allow you to go on a few interviews.

  • Letters of Recommendation

    How many letters of recommendation are needed to apply to your specialty?

    We recommend three but four is OK for many programs. Don’t send more unless you have a real good reason to. The Department will write a “Chair’s Letter” for you. It consists of evaluations of you by faculty who work with you on selectives and electives. Some programs will make it known on their website that they don’t like getting Chair’s letters. So plan to get three clinical letters. You get to decide which letters are sent to which programs. One of the letters should be a clinical pediatrics letter. The other two can come from anyone in any specialty who has gotten to know you well in a challenging environment.

    Does your specialty recommend that all letters of recommendation be written by members of your specialty?


    If letters can come from other disciplines, do you have a recommendation as to which disciplines are more highly valued?

    N/A. They can come from any specialty.

    Does the academic rank of the letter writer matter?

    No, not really. All other things being absolutely equal, I guess that it might. But all other things are never equal, so you should always go with whoever you think has likely gotten to know you the best, in the most meaningful environment.

    Does your specialty require a letter from the chairman?

    No, but we do prepare one for your benefit.


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