Trained as an occupational therapist in Dublin in the early 1980s, after which she spent several years working in the field of acute and adult mental health. During her time as a clinician, she developed an interest in the ways in which health professionals - particularly those working with damaged and vulnerable people, protected themselves and their colleagues, whilst remaining open to pain and the distress of others. This interest was followed up by postgraduate studies for an MPhil. and PhD at the University of Exeter.
Her immediate post-doctoral work centred around the exploration of Significant Event Audit in primary care, secondary care and prison health care with Dr. Johnathan Stead and Dr. Richard Westcott. Grace is currently the South West's Reaserch Fellow in Primary Care Clinical Governance, on a study which is exploring the development of clinical governance in primary care.