Cayla Ballard, RN works at the Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital. Working in rehab, Cayla knows the importance of touch. Physical touch enables healing in a way nothing else can.

story and photo by Vickie Jenkins

Cayla Ballard works at the Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital in Bethany, OK. Working in Rehab, she enjoys spending time with all of the children, helping each child in their own way. Ballard went to school at OCCC and has been a nurse for almost 2 years. Going through school, Ballard had two mentors in college. One was her English teacher. “She took me under her wing and I still thrive in her presence today,” she says. “The other one was my Nursing I teacher. Her name is Cindy Milam and I still seek her advice.”
“Why did you become a nurse?” I ask. “My grandmother was a nurse and I wanted to carry on her legacy. I always admired her for that,” she replied. Working at the Children’s Center is Ballard’s first job as a nurse. When she had clinicals here, she thought it was a sad place and she didn’t think she could work around the children. That night, she went home and couldn’t stop thinking about them. Then, she had a change of heart; she knew that the Children’s Center was the place for her to be. Ballard says the most rewarding part of her job is knowing it’s all about the children, caring for the children and loving the children.”
“How would you describe yourself in 3 words?” “I would say that I am compassionate, empathetic and funny. Some people say I’m funny. Oh, that sounds so cheesy,” she said with a giggle. “Are you a leader or a follower?” “Oh, I am definitely a leader.”
“What advice would you give to someone going into the medical field?” “Always touch your patients. Physical touch enables healing in a way nothing else can. As humans, we feel love when we touch or are being touched. The act of touching is so important.”
Asking Ballard if there is anything about herself that would surprise others, she answered, “Most people don’t know that I am shy. I am very shy and I don’t think a lot of people recognize that. Also, it would probably surprise people to know that I was in ballet for 12 years. Yes, I was a ballerina. I enjoyed it very much.”
“Did anyone influence you to become a nurse?” “My grandmother had a big influence on my life. She was a nurse for 60 years. She told me the story of when she became a nurse. Since there was a shortage of nurses back then, they had the girls that were taking care of the patients go to a class. If they passed, they were LPN’s. When I was little, I wanted to be a nurse and a teacher when I grew up. Now, I still want to be a nurse and a teacher,” she said with a laugh. The life lesson that Ballard has learned since being a nurse is that life is precious and no one should take anything for granted. Be thankful for everything. “I mean that in the most admirable way,” she adds. ”What is the favorite thing about your job?” “I love the staff here and I love the patients. I love them both equally and there is no way I could choose one over the other.”
Asking Ballard what qualities make for a good nurse, she replied, “I think that a nurse should be willing to put her own needs second, or third or fourth. A willingness to put yourself out on a limb regardless of the repercussions. A willingness to advocate for the children. Stay strong in your actions and always do what is right.” A typical day for Ballard consists of lots of hands on. “Working the night shift, there aren’t a lot of extra hands to help, so we are the bones and we do all the work. If we are fortunate enough, we get time to do some snuggling and rocking with the little babies. I love my job.”
Ballard’s hobbies include camping, hiking and back-packing. “My family and I go camping quite a bit and we love it,” she comments. “I also like to do canning; all kinds of jellies and jams. I think it’s really fun.” “What is your favorite TV show?” I ask. “Well, this may seem strange but I love watching Frontline. “What is your favorite music?” “I like mellow music. My best friend calls it coffee shop music. I don’t know why I like that kind of music, but I do.”