To say that we are living in historic times is an understatement. Indeed, COVID19 has impacted almost every facet of life for the average person. Faced with the rapid spread of COVID-19, many pharmacists were initially operating without personal protective equipment (PPE  which was a scarce commodity. There was no plexiglass in place and fearful patients were flocking in droves to pharmacies stockpiling medications. The devastating consequences soon followed-in the weeks that followed, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians across the United States contracted the deadly virus. 

Jeanine Frauenberger-DiFiore, a clinical pharmacist who works for Northwell Health in Long Island, New York is a mom of 4 school aged children.  She completed her pharmacy degree in 2001 and has been a hospital pharmacist for over 20 years.  Jeanine is a proud member of the Pharmacist Moms Group- a Facebook group of 40,000+ pharmacist moms across the United States.  The group has a tremendous engagement rate with over 6 million posts year to date.  Pharmacists Moms Group has become an important source of information on COVID19 for tens of thousands of pharmacists who rely on daily updates from fellow moms wanting to know everything from how they’re protecting themselves in hospitals and retail stores to how they’re balancing work-life responsibilities.   

Part of the Northwell Health frontline team of healthcare providers, Jeanine provided daily updates to fellow moms desperately looking for answers. She offered advice, support and a shoulder to cry on for scared pharmacist moms unsure of what the future holds. 

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jeanine to learn more about her amazing journey and how she got to where she is today.

Can you tell us what brought you to this specific career path?  

“As a senior in high school at Holy Trinity High School in Hicksville, NY I truly believed my future career would be as a physician.  I was privileged to have a science teacher named Ron Swierski who was a pharmacist himself and in the later years of his career became a high school biology teacher.  He guided me towards pharmacy suggesting that medicine would always continue to be an option after completing my pharmacy degree.  I attended St. John’s University where I received my B.S. in Pharmacy in 1999.  At the time I graduated in 1999, the pharmacy programs were just transitioning to the PharmD Degree.  I decided to pursue my PharmD degree in a post bachelors full time program at Rutgers University and completed in May 2001.  One of my original hesitations with pursuing medicine was the length of the education.  Ironically I spent 7 years pursuing my pharmacy education!  My other hesitation in pursuing medicine was the life/work balance as I knew I wanted to have a large family.  Pharmacy has allowed me to feel like a “full-time mom” involved in every aspect of my childrens lives while pursuing my career as a pharmacist.  Over the last 16 years I have primarily worked the “second shift”  aka evening shift so that I was home all day with my children!  This afforded me the opportunity to attend library programs, become a class mother, attend school functions and field trips, be home with them during the daytime in the summer and days off from school.  During this COVID-19 pandemic, I am extremely grateful that I am still a “second shift evening pharmacist” as I have been working with my four children daily home-schooling them since March 13th when New York state closed school for the remainder of the academic year.  Personally, the profession of pharmacy has afforded me a wonderful work/life balance.”

What inspired you to help other pharmacist moms?

“When I first became aware of the Pharmacist Moms Group I felt both supported and empowered by my fellow pharmacist mothers immediately!  Life is tough and getting through the day-to-day as both a mom and practicing pharmacist is no easy task.  Doing both simultaneously is challenging to say the least!   Over the last several years, I have learned and grown as both a practitioner and mother from what I have read through the Pharmacist Moms group.  When I had insights on any post, I always felt it was important to comment and/or reply.  When COVID-19 hit my area early and intensely, I felt it was important to share the information and developments with regard to the treatment options with the Pharmacist Moms immediately.” 

“By mid-March, my hospital had begun to see COVID-19 patients with great frequency.  The treatment options and protocols were changing daily.  I knew other areas of the country who had not yet begun to see cases needed to know what we were doing clinically with pharmaceutical protocols and regimens.  What better way than via Pharmacist Moms!  I started a weekly COVID-19 update post on Thursday’s occasionally posting more frequently depending upon what was happening.  The response I received from fellow pharmacist moms everywhere was overwhelming.  I think part of leaving a professional legacy is the responsibility we have to be there for generations of practitioners to come both personally and professionally.” 

“As a mother of three daughters and one son, I strive everyday to set an example for my own children, that you can achieve a strong educational foundation, enjoy a thriving career and grow a well-rounded family whom you love unconditionally.  I once read a quote stating that as a woman “you can’t have it all” and later another one that stated “you can have it all, just not all at once”  I have put my own spin on these sentiments and basically I follow my own motto… “you can have it all and even have it all simultaneously but you can not have it all without embracing the help of others!”  I am so thankful for the wonderful people I have in my life supporting me and all my endeavors including the wonderful professional friendships that have come to me via Pharmacist Moms.”