Michelle Bholat is the co-founder and executive director of the UCLA International Medical Graduate Program. Up until recently, she served as one of the five Commissioners on the L.A. County Board of Health, and is a field surveyor for The Joint Commission Bureau of Primary Health Care. Before joining the panel at a Zócalo/The California Wellness Foundation event titled “How Are Immigrants Changing the Way Health Care Is Practiced?” at the RedZone at Gensler in Los Angeles, she talked in the green room about wine, “M*A*S*H,” and the surprises of public service.
How do you take your coffee?
What’s your favorite place to eat in Westwood?
Skylight Gardens, an old, old restaurant that was around back when people were having martinis at lunch. I don’t go there for martinis. I like it because it’s open and has a great atmosphere.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about doctors?
That our life is really glamorous. And I think what people don’t see behind the scenes is the tremendous amount of dedication and commitment that most of my colleagues have, particularly in my field, primary care and family medicine.
Where would we find you on a Sunday afternoon?
Often, to tell you the truth, I’m at work. Or if I’m not at work, I would be at my house. But on some Sundays, I would be at the wine shop, because I love wines, so I like to do wine tastings, and I go between three different wine businesses.
What was the most surprising thing you learned while serving as a commissioner on the L.A. County Board of Health?
I was a commissioner during the transition from one health deputy director to another. With those transitions, one of the senior people who has long passed, Dr. Lester Breslow, came to my office to sure I would see things the way the rest of the board did. I was flattered and surprised that he would come and talk to me. He didn’t convince me—I kept my vote. But it was really surprising that he would say, “Michelle, I’d like you to reconsider.”
What was the most fun you ever had practicing medicine?
I have fun during in-patient service, when I do that. My specialty is mostly out-patient, but I have a good time coordinating care with the residents.
What immigrant to America, living or dead, would you most want to have a drink with?
I love the artist Frida Kahlo, and she would certainly have a drink.
Who is your favorite TV doctor?
Hawkeye Pierce, “M*A*S*H.” I loved Hawkeye Pierce. He was an excellent surgeon, and he knew how to have fun and be a prankster.