Michelle Anne Bholat, M.D., believes that basic health care is a right, and that where medicine cannot cure, compassion can help and heal. As a general practitioner and the vice chair of family medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, she cares for patients in some of their most trying times, and is teaching medical students how to do the samewith skill and sensitivity, and a recognition of their role as confidantes as well as carers.
Michelle Bholat was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1958, and learned at a very young age that her aunt had died in hospital at the age of 9, separated from her family and not allowed to have visitors. As she heard the story again over the years, Bholat began to understand medicine in the context of family and community, and the privileged role physicians have in the lives of others. Anxious to begin her own family and a new phase in her life, she left junior high school to become a young mother.
At the age of 29, Bholat enrolled at California State University, where she majored in the biological sciences. After graduating in 1987, she began her medical training at the University of California, Irvine. Graduating with her M.D. degree in 1992 she then completed a residency in family medicine at Harbor/University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center and was appointed chief resident in 1994. From 1995 to 1996 she was a fellow in the department, and from 1996 to 1997 she was also medical director of the Wilmington Family Health Center. In 1997, Dr. Bholat graduated with an M.P.H. in health care policy and administration, from the University of California, Los Angeles, and was appointed visiting assistant professor of family medicine at the university. In 1999, she was appointed vice chair and chief of clinical operations, making her the first Latina to hold the position of vice chair.
In 1999, Dr. Bholat received the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services Recognition of Service Award for "Excellent Leadership and Tremendous Dedication to Our Community and Patients." She has served on a wide range of committees and is a member of the National Hispanic Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, and the American Academy of Family Physicians. As well as several large research grants, in 2001 she also received a fellowship from the National Hispanic Medical Association.