Successful Strategies in the Workplace

For our first Speaker Series, and third monthly meeting this year, we were pleased to welcome Dr. Petcash to speak to our members.

A graduate of Washington & Jefferson College and the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Petcash is an Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon who owns and operates his own practice in the Gibsonia area. He has been serving in this position for twenty-two years. Additionally, Dr. Petcash serves on numerous national, state, and local medical boards, including the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. With his academic background and experience in researching, creating and operating his own practice, we were delighted that Dr. Petcash was able to speak to our members.

Dr. Petcash began his presentation by asking our members a question: “How many here are going into medicine? Health sciences? Finance?” He explained as a key point that everyone should know why they are involved in something. As a part of this, a critical point to identify is the path you wish to build professionally. He added to his point that from the get go he knew that he wanted to be an oral surgeon. As part of this conversation, he expanded to ask a thought-provoking question: “What separates you from everyone else?” He emphasized to the audience that they should be focused on building their resume now, and should they need, documented on paper, what makes them unique.

Diving into this idea, he discussed a personal anecdote of his experience in the field. As part of shadowing a surgeon in an operating room to observe a corrective surgery, Dr. Petcash remarked on the high-pressure environment that he was surrounded in and shared about passing out on the floor of the operating room. He made his point that experience in the field and knowing those professionals is invaluable. Over the course of his high school career, Dr. Petcash shadowed other oral surgeons to learn more about the career he eventually wanted to have. He emphasized to our members that for whatever field they are interested in, meeting someone currently in the field is an excellent way to get to know and understand what you want to do.

Continuing with the message of “finding your path,” Dr. Petcash discussed the motivation behind his educational background. He talked about his motives behind majoring in biology at Washington & Jefferson College. He explained that it was his school not because of their football program, but rather because he saw in his research that their graduates are employed in the workforce. Connecting this to his earlier point, he mentioned that it is often necessary to calculate your moves to eventually reach your set end goal in mind. As he continued to tie-in his professional background, Dr. Petcash discussed the next stepping stone in his career. In the summer of college at Sewickley Hospital, he served as a Nurse’s Aide assistant. He mentioned that in the hospital, it was one of the toughest and lowest jobs that few were willing to do. However, he made clear that what was reflected on his resume was a willingness to work from the bottom up. After being accepted into dental school, he still had to hold down a job. He then talked about his experience as a Lab Technician for UPMC, a job that was difficult to obtain because for many others it was their full-time work. He noted that his work schedule was a rigorous 3 P.M. to 11:30 P.M. on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. He continued to hold this position for years through dental school at UPMC. His overall message was that being both a full-time employee and a student was necessary to build his resume and further his education. He emphasized that no one is going to give you anything and you must work to build your brand and resume.

Dr. Petcash continued to expand his presentation with the idea of “building the progression,” and that on his professional level, most candidates are the same in their experience and education. Including articulating that it is absolutely essential to separate yourself in interviews through niche experience and demonstrating hard work. He discussed the motive behind his ICU position, or why he was involved in intensive care. Our speaker explained his invaluable field experience, knowing how to run a ventilator and experience with codes, among other things. He stood alone in the field of candidates for internships as the only one in interviews with advanced emergency medicine knowledge. Furthermore, he discussed his business experience with a Doctor of Medicine and being unfamiliar with how to run a business, including real estate and malpractice insurance.

“What kind of an animal do you want to be and why?” In his discussion of interview skills, he is looking for candidates who can react on their feet. He explained how interviewers are looking for candidates to deliver polished answers for material they didn’t prepare in advance.

Dr. Petcash then transitioned into three broader business topics for our audience to consider. The first being the value of networking, and building your background and resume to establish yourself as a determined, knowledgeable and capable professional. Secondly, the idea that need to be able to communicate, both over e-mail and in person. Emphasizing the importance of being direct and being clear about what you need, he discussed the email he received to speak to PR-FBLA members as an example of professional communication. Finally, to be accountable and have respect.

Finally, Dr. Petcash left the club with an emphasis on one of his earlier points: the value of a professional network. As the owner of his own practice, his perspective on building practice from scratch was incredibly valuable. He discussed joining a practice right out of residency, and being thrown into many business ideas he wasn’t prepared for or knowledgeable about. His point was that research is essential. As part of your professional network, use your connections to make sound decisions when your own knowledge may be limited. In building his resume, he highlighted how it was clear he had enough value to bring to his own practice, and as a result of building from scratch, he knew business inside and out. Dr. Petcash put into perspective how connections now or in the next few years can be a lifetime and help develop a professional career.

Dr. Petcash, we sincerely thank you for sharing your business and career expertise.