On Thursdays, we highlight an oral history featuring a health care leader who shaped the past and laid the foundation for the future. Since 1978, the AHA has conducted more than 100 interviews as part of this project, and transcripts are available in the oral history collection on the AHA’s Resource Center webpage. The following oral history with William Petasnick comes from an interview conducted in 2017.

William D. Petasnick, while a student at the University of Wisconsin in the 1960s, formed a lifelong mentorship and pursuance of a career in health care after speaking with Wisconsin General Hospital Superintendent Edward Connors on the topic of the newly passed Medicare program. Petasnick completed his graduate work at the University of Minnesota and began to work his way up in leadership postings at the University of Michigan Hospitals, the University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinics, North Carolina Hospital, and the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics.

In the early 90’s, Petasnick accepted the CEO position at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee during a time when parts of the local hospital and medical school infrastructure were being restructured. He was instrumental in helping to build today’s Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin.

In this oral history, Petasnick reminisces about lessons learned at each step along his career path. He shares thoughts on governance, leadership style and shaping corporate culture. He also discusses how he became involved in leadership at the American Hospital Association, where he served as chairman of the Board of Trustees in 2008. 

To read the full oral history transcript, click here.