Joshua “Josh” Penninger, MSM, MMS, PA-C, grew up living in various cities and military bases across the southeast United States for most of his childhood. With a father in the U.S. Coast Guard, it was not uncommon for his family to move every 3 to 4 years. Changing schools and leaving childhood friends behind was never easy; however, being a triplet and having two other brothers the same age made the change less difficult. After graduating high school in Fairhope, Alabama, Penninger attended the University of South Alabama from 2016 to 2020, where he studied Biology and minored in Psychology and Management. During this time, he volunteered weekly at the University of South Alabama Children’s & Women’s Hospital, where he tutored pediatric patients and taught beginner piano lessons. In addition, he worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant at two long-term care facilities, primarily working with patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia. His heart for service began after he started serving in various organizations during his undergraduate career. Two experiences to highlight in particular were when Penninger served on the Board of Directors for the Alabama District of Circle K International, a branch of Kiwanis International, and when he wrote for the national Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Health Professional Honor Society’s magazine, The Scalpel.
In early high school, Penninger was drawn to the PA profession whenever he came across it when working on a career exploration assignment. The PA profession’s rich history and need for more advocacy drew him in further, and soon he was committed to becoming a PA. As a Pre-PA student, he attended the 2018 AAPA conference to meet Ken Ferrell, one of the three original PAs, at the PAHx booth. Mr. Penninger was accepted into the Emerging Leaders Program at Wake Forest University’s PA Program. In this program, he completed a Master of Science in Management at the Wake Forest School of Business in 2021, where he was awarded the Scarritt Family Pro Humanitate Award, an award given to a student who exemplifies Wake Forest University’s motto of Pro Humanitate through their commitment to advancing the greater good. He then matriculated into the Wake Forest PA Program, where he graduated in May of 2023 and was awarded the Patrick and Cathy Ober Community Leadership award. In addition to being the 2022 Physician Assistant History Society’s Student Trustee, he was the Student Academy of AAPA Representative for his class and a member of the Student Academy of AAPA’s Advocacy & Policy Committee during his didactic year. During his clinical year of PA school, he was a Student Delegate in the AAPA House of Delegates and a PAEA Student Health Policy Fellow.
Mr. Penninger is currently working in Hospital Medicine at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Lexington Medical Center and is interested in the intersectionality of healthcare and business. He hopes to focus his career on bridging the two by providing high-quality community-based care and advocating for PAs and patients alike through healthcare administration.
Acknowledgments: This biography was written by Mr. Penninger and submitted to the Society in April, 2022. This biography was updated in June 2023. The portrait photograph is courtesy of Mr. Penninger and the second photograph is from the PA History Society Photograph Collection.