By Bonita Wilborn
Drake Ibsen has been a Physical Therapist and Clinic Director at Rehab Partners for 20 years, but recently purchased the business.
Drake grew up in Mobile and came to Jacksonville State University to complete his education to become a physical therapist. While attending there, he met his wife, a native of Hokes Bluff.
Drake said, “When I went to Physical Therapy (PT) school in south Alabama, we always thought we’d come back to north Alabama to live near my wife’s parents. So when I got the offer for Rehab Partners it was a great fit. I started in Gadsden in June of 1998. I worked with them for about six months and then I came to the Fort Payne Clinic (January of 1999), which had opened in March of 1998. I’ve been here ever since.”
Drake worked as Director of the Clinic for 20 years and began to have aspirations of purchasing the clinic. So after everything was said and done, and all the paperwork signed, Drake became the new owner in January 2019.
“For the 20 years I spend as Director, I treated it like it was mine, because I love this area and we tried to grow the clinic and the business. So I was glad that we were finally able to do this so that we could become owners of the clinic,” Drake explained.
Drake’s initial intended career path was to go into the field of Criminal Justice. But his wife’s uncle, a hospital administrator in Gadsden who was also over the PT Department, told Drake of the growing need for PTs and the great job opportunities that were available in the field.
“He told me that he thought I’d be good in that field. So I began researching the field and found it pretty interesting. I got a job as an aid in the PT Department at Gadsden Regional Hospital,” Drake said. “I was just there to help the physical therapist out, doing anything and everything I could in that position. Before I knew it, I just fell in love with it. I thought, ‘I know I can do this.’ You get to interact with all different kinds of patients and all different kinds of personalities that come in and out, you get to communicate with them, and encourage them to get to the levels you needed them at to reach the goals you’ve set for them. I watched the therapist that I was around. They were great and I learned a lot from them. And before I knew it I thought, ‘I have to make a career change.’ I was still in the process of finishing my Criminal Justice degree.”
Through his research into the PT field, Drake knew that getting into PT was very competitive so just having good grades didn’t mean that he would automatically get into a PT program. So he completed the Criminal Justice degree, as a backup, but kept working in the field of PT. When the degree was completed he and his wife moved to Mobile to be near his parents because he felt that would be a better opportunity for him since the University of South Alabama has a PT Department. So knowing the area and having his family nearby, he decided living there for a while would be a good start.
While Drake went through the process of learning to be a PT, his wife worked as a teacher in the local school system. While taking all the prerequisites for the field of PT, Drake got another job in the PT field at a hospital in South Alabama. PT was in his blood and in his heart. He loved it. So he kept getting experience that would help him down the road. It helped him to be comfortable with people and the things he would be seeing in PT.
PT is a ‘you have to be cruel to be kind’ sort of thing’. Drake added, “Sometimes patients come in and jokingly give us the name of Physical Torture and all kind of different things. Sometimes it’s going to hurt, but you just have to hurt in the things you have to go through to get over the problem. But you slowly begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, the pain begins to decrease and change, and they begin to see that they are making progress.”
“Really, if my wife’s uncle hadn’t talked to me about PT my career would have gone a totally different way,” Drake said. “I’m just so thankful that he did because I love what I do and I think it’s turned out to be a great situation. I really didn’t just take his word for it that I’d be good at PT. I realized that I was good at it through getting a job in the field and doing the necessary research. I think it’s really important for students to get a job in the field so that have hands on experience or at the very least talk to people who are in the profession so they can know what’s involved and decide whether they really like it.”
Drake’s staff members at Rehab Partners are: Kim Bryan – Physical Therapist, Todd Carter – Physical Therapist, Rita McBriar – Physical Therapy Assistant, Sherry York – Physical Therapy Assistant, Amanda Baldwin – Office Manager, Karen Harcrow – Receptionist, and Angela Cowart – – Physical Therapy Aid.