After Heriot’s Blog

What better way to kick off 2021 than with one of our NHS heroes – Lisa Graham (2001).

Lisa is a Senior Charge Nurse/Team Lead of the East Lothian Community Learning Disability Nursing Team and has been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic. We caught up with her to chat about how the compassion she learnt during her time at school impacted her career choice today.

Please get in touch if you wish to share your story ‘after Heriot’s’.

Lisa Graham, Class of 2001

What is your current role?

I am a Senior Charge Nurse/Team Lead of the East Lothian Community Learning Disability Nursing Team within the East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership (NHS). I manage a team of nurses who deliver care to children and adults diagnosed with a learning disability (LD) and additional health care needs. We also deliver a respite service to individuals who require Intensive nursing care.

How did you get there?

My Journey at Heriot’s started at Nursery when I was just three years old and I left two months short of my last day of sixth year to take up a councillor role with Camp America (Missing the all important sixth year ball I may add). During my experience in America I worked with a young child who required a level of clinical care which sparked my interest in Nursing. Or so I thought, having recently found my year book which suggests that was always my chosen carer. On my return I briefly worked in Scottish widows before being accepted to the Bachelor of Nursing Degree in Learning Disabilities at Edinburgh Napier University in 2003. I graduated with distinction in 2006 and went on to work with children with complex health care needs and thereafter adults with LD and additional mental health/forensic needs in a secure facility in Edinburgh. I then moved into working within the community sector, working in a number of areas in and around Edinburgh and the Lothian’s before taking up post where I am currently based in East Lothian.

What are your most notable achievements?

Both personally and professionally having graduated as a Bachelor of Nursing in Learning Disabilities was a huge achievement for me as I was not particularly academic despite trying hard at school (Some teachers may say VERY trying). I have since worked with a pioneering group of health professional adapting Behavioural Family Therapy for people with Learning disabilities and their families and in doing so won the ‘Innovation in practice’ award at the Scottish Community Learning Disability Nursing Network in 2013.

I continue to work toward my Masters Degree having completed my Post Graduate Certificate in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy but most importantly I am proud to be a Learning Disability Nurse. I continue to be inspired by my colleagues and client group and love the job I do. There are many challenges not to mention working through the most recent pandemic, no day is ever the same!

On a personal note, balancing a full time career and family life has not gone too badly either.

What are your abiding memories of Heriot’s?

I have so many fond memories of my time at Heriot’s including the importance of the red hymn books, rolling our kilts up, the hockey board, the hot seats, talking too much in class and laughing till my sides were sore with my lifelong friend, the list goes on. If I had to choose I would have to say the time I collapsed during the annual Christmas concert at the Usher hall whilst sitting in the choir seats only to rise again singing when everyone had returned to their seats. For years I would hear ‘my mum has you on video’.

Another memory is of a very embarrassing picturing taken of me getting stuck in a tyre at sports day which featured kindly in the annual magazine. Being strides in front of everyone in the obstacle course I had decided to try and be ladylike and put my leg through first only to get stuck and needless to say loose the race.

 What are you two ‘takeaways’ from your Heriot’s days?

If Heriot’s taught me one thing it is that you can never set your sights too high, you can always achieve what you set out to if you put the effort in and try your very best.

I recently read a old classmates blog and it’s so very true, the Heriots fiends you make are often your friends for life.

Any top tips for current pupils when planning their future?

It is such a daunting prospect leaving school and choosing your lifelong career. Like you are told everyday it is so important to try your very best. If however you don’t achieve the academic grades you hope for it is never too late to be what you hope to be and to be successful in life.

A good work ethic will always stand you in good stead, Life doesn’t owe you a living you have to work for it and never be scared to take a few risks.

Oh and beware of what you wish for in your yearbook, sometimes it comes true!