Associate Director of Cardiovascular Medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, he still finds time to stay involved in the Greek community.
Member of Adelphi University’s Profiles in Success program.
Associate Director of Cardiovascular Medicine, Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan
Involvement at Adelphi: I was a columnist for The Delphian and was a member of the TKE fraternity.
Advice for Students Aspiring to Enter the Field of Medicine: Always put the patient first.
Fulfilling a Family Dream
For as long as he can remember, William Tenet wanted to fulfill his parents’ dream that one of their children would become a doctor.
The son of Greek-immigrants, Dr. Tenet grew up in a tight-knit community in Little Neck, Queens. He developed a sense of pride for his rich heritage, watching his parents maintain Greek traditions within an American community.
Around the corner from his family’s home was the diner owned by his father, where Dr. Tenet and his twin brother worked during their high school years. Dr. Tenet credits his parents for instilling in him a respect for education and a strong work ethic. “To my parents, education was everything,” he says. “They wanted my brother and me to take full advantage of educational opportunities.”
Dr. Tenet began his academic career at Adelphi, intent on honoring his parents’ philosophy. To offset tuition, he worked long hours on the weekends as a waiter and bartender. At the University, he initially pursued chemistry, before deciding on biology as his major. Although immersed in the sciences, it was the liberal arts education he received that had the greatest impact on Dr. Tenet.
“A liberal arts education stimulated me to read and to be a better writer, as well as a critical thinker,” he says. At Adelphi he was exposed to disciplines previously foreign to him, and took his first-ever philosophy and law courses. In particular, he savored the opportunity to take Italian, and fondly remembers Professor Romano Giacetti, who opened a whole new world to him: “He brought out the beauty of the language and culture,” he recalls.
In the next phase of his life, Dr. Tenet would have the chance to build on this foundation. His sights were set on medical school; however, at the time he was graduating, admittance to medical schools in the United States was highly competitive. Determined to see his vision through, he decided to complete his education abroad, at the University of Rome. Studying in Europe afforded him exposure to aspects of health care, such as socialized medicine, that he would not have experienced in the States. “It was an invaluable experience,” he says of his time abroad, “a blessing in disguise.”
Upon graduating from medical school in 1980, he returned to the United States to prepare for a career in cardiology. “I knew I wanted cardiology from the beginning,” says Dr. Tenet, inspired by his father who had suffered from a heart condition his entire life. Witnessing first-hand how heart disease plagued a beloved family member, he knew cardiology would be his path, and he never wavered from it.
After completing his internship and residency at Booth Memorial Medical Center (today known as New York Hospital in Queens), he embarked on a fellowship at the University of Connecticut’s Division of Cardiology, before devoting a career to the treatment of diseases of the heart.
Today Dr. Tenet serves as associate director of cardiovascular medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan. He is also clinical associate professor of medicine at the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University, in addition to his role as CEO of Cardiovascular Associates; the largest cardiovascular group in New York. His passion for his work is evident: “I get a piece of everything; administration, patient care, and academia,” he says. “I like to keep things interesting. Every day is a challenge, and that’s exciting.”
Dr. Tenet, named one of 2009’s Best Doctors by New York Magazine, attributes his accomplishments, professionally and personally, to his experience at the University: “A strong liberal arts education is the key to success,” he says. “I am a better student, citizen, and doctor because of my Adelphi education.” He continues to utilize his fluency in Italian when communicating with many of his patients.
Despite the demands of a busy career, Dr. Tenet still finds time to stay involved in the Greek community. “It’s a vibrant community,” he says, “the community that raised me.” In 1999, The Council of the City of New York honored Dr. Tenet for his services to the borough of Queens as first medical director of the cardiovascular unit at New York Hospital Queens, and again in 2000, for his work for Greek Independence Day and his services to the community as a Greek-American. The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association honored Dr. Tenet for his excellence in public service, commerce, and Hellenism with the 2009 Academy of Achievement Award in Medicine.
Dr. Tenet and his wife live in Manhasset, New York, and have three daughters. In his spare time, this former sports columnist for The Delphian still manages to enjoy his passion for athletics, particularly college basketball.
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