From a young age, Anna Ballenger knew she wanted to work with kids. She looked for any opportunity to help take care of them, from babysitting to working at a pediatrician’s office in high school. She was always interested in health care, but it wasn’t until she earned an undergraduate degree in psychology that Anna began considering occupational therapy.
“I loved how occupational therapy gave me the opportunity to work with children in so many different ways to help them physically improve their quality of life,” Ballenger said. “I also saw that occupational therapy gave me the ability to work with a wide variety of patient types and diagnoses. Learning that really helped me solidify my decision that occupational therapy was the right path for me.”
Ballenger knew the best place to work as a pediatric occupational therapist is Children’s of Alabama. “If you want to work in pediatrics, Children’s is the place to do that because they are the best of the best,” she said. “When I started at Children’s, I was given so many opportunities to work in different departments, which is so beneficial in growing and learning different skill sets.”
In her role at Children’s, Ballenger works with children who have suffered traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries or strokes. Specifically, she helps them learn to function as independently as possible. She spends a lot of time working with patients on basic daily activities such as getting dressed, eating and grooming. “I like that personal interaction,” she said. “I get to know the children and their families really well because I often work with them over a long period of time. It’s incredibly rewarding to watch their improvement and see their lives change right before my very eyes.”
Twenty-seven years later, Ballenger continues to enjoy working with kids. Working at Children’s, she said, is an added bonus. “Beyond just the wonderful patients, I get to work with a variety of other professionals at Children’s, including the physical therapists, speech therapists, doctors and nurses to provide the best patient care possible,” she said. “I love getting to collaborate with so many different professionals. That’s such a special aspect about working at Children’s. I can’t even imagine working anywhere else.”