17 Oct He Fixes Limbs
Black Men in Medicine Pt 3
–Who is D. Moss?
D’ Andre Mostella was born in Gadsden, AL, but raised in Virginia. Currently, I am a Prosthetic resident. I graduated from UAB with a degree in exercise science. After that, I went to Alabama State University and received my Master’s in Prosthetics and Orthotics. My family really pushed college; sports just happened to be the vehicle that got me there. Now that I am 26, it’s more to me than just sports. I also dabble into entrepreneurism with my partnership at Team Moss Fit (TMF). TMF is an Internet-based training program. We are currently in the process of getting an actual gym in Birmingham, AL.
By way of having a gym and training individuals, I would like to give back to African Americans by actually coming back and helping. I don’t just want to work with adults; I want to work with kids and push mentoring programs. I didn’t have anyone to come back and talk to me. I never wanted to be the guy who everyone saw in pictures, but didn’t get the opportunity to know. Outside of talking to kids about sports, I want to talk to them about life. Everyone talks about sports, but no one talks about life. At this point, I am happy with my life. Most people can’t see past sports. I couldn’t initially. I played football from age 5, but at this point, it’s behind me. I really want to be a big entrepreneur. My mentors used to always tell me to read; now I am a big-time reader. I didn’t start until age 25, but now I read as much as I can. In fact, I have read 7 books so far this year on business.
There are always stepping stones in life. I truly believe and understand there is a cap when you work for other people. I also understand I am disposable, and with a family that depends on me, that’s not a burden I wish to carry.
–What made you get into prosthetics and orthotics?
The field used to be blue collar. They were also not combined, but were two separate entities. Now, the program has combined and you get both degrees at the same time. I graduated in 2012, and was blessed to work in UAB’s physical therapy program for a year and a half. However, because of the job, I eventually realized PT school wasn’t for me.
Curiosity made me ask questions to the gentleman working in the prosthetics office. I began to go to their office during my lunch break and observe. I would even go on my off days just to see what was going on. I ended up being offered a job there, as an orthotics fitter. After that, I knew what I wanted to go back to school for.
–What are some opportunities in the field for men of color?
The opportunities are wide open. I went to a HBCU and I was still the only BLACK person in the program. It’s truly sad. Honestly, being a person of color is advantageous. Most blacks don’t apply, and on top of that, schools have to diversify. We have a coalition for African American students in prosthetics and orthotics that anyone can join. The biggest thing about the coalition is the networking. I think the lack of knowledge of prosthetics and orthotics’ existence is a big issue. I took classes with occupational therapy students and physical therapy students, and 50% of my classmates said they wish they knew about my program. The other big thing about my field is that I get a chance to go in the back and be by myself in the lab, not just continually working with patients. The job is great. It fits my personality. I am truly in and out all the time. I may take a ride with a patient, go to their home, or meet at my office. I feel that it’s a million-dollar, wide-open industry for the right individuals.
I’m the guy that makes back and neck braces, shoe inserts, cranial molding for infants, knee braces for offensive lineman, and even facemasks (Rip Hamilton in the NBA). It’s truly a fulfilling job.
I will say this, as time progresses, it will only become harder to enter the field. Due to PT requirements becoming increasingly rigorous, the surrounding occupations will have to become more competitive. My program used to only be a certification. Now it’s a Master’s program, and one day, it may be a Doctoral program. Also, in this field, you have to pay attention to detail. Most of my mistakes came from a lack of attention to detail. We are making legs, so I need to make sure the prosthetic leg fits the opposing actual leg. That relates to the skills students learn in school. Take good notes, slow down, pay attention, and focus on what you are doing.
–What do you want to see happen in the field?
I would like for the field to be respected for what it is. It’s not a blue-collar job – it’s a patient care position. We go into hospitals and homes, but if we make a mistake, it could be detrimental to the patient’s life. It takes a lot of critical thinking as well, as there are a lot of variables that come into play. From the outside looking in, it may seem that we go in the back and come out with a leg and that’s it. That’s not the case. We truly have to be careful in making sure patients don’t get ulcers or even worse, further amputations.
–Would you like to offer any advice to young Black males?
Don’t rely on the words of others in life when it comes to deciding on a career. It’s hard to decide what you want to do with your life when you are young, but one method I learned is job shadowing. Don’t be scary and don’t wait for anyone to do anything for you. Everything I’ve ever gotten, I had to fight for. Showing up with a chip on your shoulder is good; it helps you go after your goals. Don’t get complacent with a hometown mentality, and don’t be afraid to fail. Failure isn’t deadly; it usually teaches you how to move forward.
This article was written by Justin Sims, (IAMMRMENTOR), In hopes of not only inspiring entrepreneurs, but young black males to be the best and the truest version of themselves.
If you like this article and find yourself interested in more positive stories about black millennial age males, please visit WWW.IAMMRMENTOR.CO and follow him on his social media pages IAMMRMENTOR on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.