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Friday, October 21, 2011

Dr. Mitch Kornet and A Tradition of Mentoring

Guest Blog by Michelle Pesce, Cornell DVM Class of 2012
Posted October 21, 2011

Careers for Veterinarians Series

When Mitchell Kornet took his 89-cent hamster for a six-dollar veterinary appointment in 1968, he was making an investment in a good deal more than the rodent’s well-being. Dr. Albert Drolesky’s kind attention that evening was what first led 13-year-old Mitch to direct his aptitude for science towards veterinary medicine.

The 1979 graduate of Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine considers himself fortunate to have had a series of mentors throughout his education and early career. Their guidance helped him establish a successful small animal practice with loyal clientele, as well as a deep-rooted sense of benevolence towards students pursuing a career in veterinary medicine.

Dr. Mitch Kornet CVM (Cornell '79) examining
his own dog, Ferrous, at the Mid Island Animal Hospital.
As the first of his family to attend college, Mitch was apprehensive about attending Cornell as an undergraduate. After finding his footing academically in his freshman year, he sought experience in the large animal clinic as a sophomore. Dr. Lawrence Kramer, who had recently been appointed as head of the clinic, offered Mitch a job in the pharmacy dispensary and took a special interest in his development as a prospective veterinary student.

Following his first year of veterinary college, Mitch returned to the practice he had visited years before with his hamster. The new practice owner, Dr. Richard Lange, helped Mitch understand the workup on cases and also shared with him how much fun one can have being a veterinarian.
Dr. Kornet had been among the youngest students in his graduating class, and his youth was recognized by clients when he took ownership of Mid Island Animal Hospital in Hicksville, NY in 1983 at age 28.
I received a hostile call from a client one afternoon… she proceeded to give me a list of demands that included which employees to retain and hours that I should be open. I listened carefully and was very polite. Then Mrs. Weber said, ‘and one more thing young man…..’ That didn’t sound right to me and I had to take control of the conversation – quickly. So without thinking, I said, ‘That’s enough Mrs. Weber, from now on when you address me, you will call me Dr. Young Man.’”
Mrs. Weber hung up on “Dr. Young Man” that day, but did eventually return to the practice. Mid Island Animal Hospital evolved into a busy American Animal Hospital Association-accredited small animal practice as hours were extended, emergency appointments were invited, and the employee base expanded.
In 1998, Dr. Kornet began volunteering as a member of the Long Island Veterinary Medical Association’s Disaster Preparedness Plan. A far cry from anyone's expectations, the plan was put into action following September 11th, 2001.
Mid Island Animal Hospital, Hicksville, N.Y.
In the ensuing two months, Dr. Kornet assembled teams of veterinarians and technicians who worked 12-hour shifts around the clock at veterinary triage site for search and rescue dogs. For his efforts, Dr. Kornet was honored as Long Island’s Veterinarian of the Year.
As a student in Dean Smith‘s “Versatile Profession” course in February 2010, I took great interest in his reference to Dr. Mitch Kornet, and wondered if his practice would merit a visit. I mailed him a letter and a copy of my résumé, and what followed was one of the most worthwhile summer jobs I’ve ever had, redefining my concept of a model small animal practice.
At Mid Island Animal Hospital, the greatest care and attention is provided to every patient, whether routine or unusual, and the legacy of mentorship that had  begun many years earlier was passed onto my generation of veterinary students, as well as aspiring animal health technicians.  
As Dr. Kornet reminded me: “What’s remarkable to me is that no matter what generation we are in, we are all the same. Veterinarians want to learn, do well, and be good doctors for the sake of our patients. We love animals, and we have unending energy to make the lives of our patients better. And because of the broad scope of our training we are capable of doing some extraordinary things.

Author Michelle Pesce, Cornell's DVM Class of 2012, and Dr. Mitch Kornet '79
Michelle grew up in Massapequa, N.Y. on the southern shore of Long Island.