Employee Spotlight: Calisa Edwards, Nurse Manager

Last summer, we welcomed a new Nurse Manager to our Richmond campus. Calisa Edwards has worked in the nursing field for over two decades, and we’re thrilled to have her on our medical team! Learn more about Calisa in the following Employee Spotlight.

Q: What attracted you to nursing?

I’ve always enjoyed taking care of people and helping people feel better, so nursing seemed like the natural thing to do. The only other job I considered was cosmetology. I learned that many nurses also considered cosmetology because both careers are about serving others and making people feel better. For me, it was always going to be one of those two jobs, and nursing won out.

Q: What’s your educational background?

I graduated from nursing school and became a registered nurse (RN) in 1995, and I went back to school in 2017 to earn my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree in June of 2019.

Q: What type of nursing did you do before coming to Grafton?

In the almost 27 years I’ve been in nursing, I’ve worked in home health, hospice, community health, skilled nursing, and long-term care nursing, the latter two being largely management and supervisory roles. I also worked with intellectually disabled (ID) adults in a group home setting from 2014-2019, as Director of Nursing. The clients in those homes were more medically fragile than the clients here at Grafton and required a nurse in the home. Just before joining Grafton, I was an RN Case Manager for a local home health agency.

Q: What made you want to work at Grafton?

I wanted to do something different, and I found great joy working with the ID adults at my previous job. Coming to Grafton was a chance to reconnect with serving the ID community. I was also excited to work in a school setting with children. I have a special needs nephew with autism and cerebral palsy, so working with Grafton’s demographic of clients is of personal interest to me. I’m hoping this will be an opportunity to learn new skills to help me interact with him.

Q: How does working at Grafton compare to other nursing jobs?

Most of my clients at Grafton don’t have as many complex medical needs as patients I’ve worked with in the past. This job is more oriented around the mental and behavioral health of the children and adults. In that sense, it’s much different. I’m learning a new skillset.

Q: What’s a typical day like for a Grafton nurse?

At Grafton’s Richmond campus, the nursing department is based in the school, but we also care for the clients in the residential group homes. On any given day, we may be administering medication to students, ensuring residential clients get their prescriptions filled, scheduling medical appointments, or following up with doctors. Every day is different.

If there’s an emergency, we may get called to help with an injury or tend to someone who has had a seizure. If a student isn’t feeling well, we will assess them. If there’s a serious medical issue, the clients are always sent to the hospital for treatment. There’s someone on call 24 hours a day for any emergencies that may occur.

Q: What do you enjoy most about working at Grafton?

I’m fairly new and still trying to find my niche, but so far, I really enjoy the people here. I work with a great team. It’s an environment where you can be heard, understood, ask questions, and get the answers that you need. People here are very patient, and Grafton has great resources available. During Covid, we’ve all been going through difficult and uncertain times, but my team has been so helpful and supportive.

I’m looking forward to getting to know the students and staff better. It’s a great feeling when the students recognize you and know your name, so I’m looking forward to building that rapport.

Seeing the relationships between the staff and students here is amazing. I’m in awe of the teachers, assistants, and direct support staff who put themselves in harm’s way sometimes, yet they still come to work every day with a positive attitude. I think that is awesome! It’s such a selfless thing to do, and I know this clientele needs and deserves that.

Q: What would you tell a nurse who is interested in working at Grafton?

If you haven’t worked with this demographic before, nursing at Grafton will be a different experience. It also can be very rewarding to make a difference in the lives of those we serve. You won’t be doing things like drawing blood or starting IVs; it’s more medication management at the school and group homes, being a resource for medical issues when they arise, and acting as a liaison between doctors, families, staff, and the clients at our group homes.

If you’re willing to work with this clientele, and open to doing something challenging yet different, Grafton is a great place to be!