Tracey Mulkey has always been a team player and her time as team captain of her high school basketball team laid the groundwork for Tracey to succeed as the proverbial team captain for Dental Depot South Tulsa where she raises up her coworkers.
A native of Tulsa, Tracey always knew she wanted to go into a profession that allowed her to help people. She’d always enjoyed going to the dentist, and as a teen, she had her fair share of orthodontic visits, as well. It was these experiences that sparked her interest in dentistry and she answered her call to become a dental assistant by attending Tulsa Tech.
Although Tracey has been working as part of the South Tulsa team for almost two and a half years, she is celebrating her 30th year in dentistry this month.
“I’ve always been looking for a long-term dental home and I’ve just never found it,” Tracey said. “I’ve been in and out of a lot of offices and Dental Depot feels like a good fit for me with how structured it is. Coming in as part-time help, I saw right away that it was something I wanted to do full time … I was so impressed.”
As a self-described “fly by the seat of her pants” personality, the structure that Dental Depot provides is just what Tracey says she needs.
“Tracey has been the cornerstone of our clinical team in South Tulsa for years,” Dr. Muhannad Salayta said. “Tracey has worked in dentistry for over 30 years and her vast knowledge and experience shows each and every day. She’s extremely hardworking, has a service minded attitude and displays the Dental Depot’s core values every day.”
“I would say some of my discipline comes from high school sports. I was on a winning team with a coach who would expect nothing but the best,” Tracey recalled. “I feel that it has carried over into my career and my work life. I like being part of a winning team and I feel that what Dental Depot gives me is that winning atmosphere.”
Tracey carries with her the lessons she’s learned over the years, and knows all the ingredients for a healthy and successful team, like a solid game plan and room for growth.
“What I like is the way things are set up. It makes it easy to be interchangeable if you need to fill in at another office,” Tracey said. “That’s been a huge deal to me that we can step in at any time to fill each other’s shoes. That’s the way we did on our basketball team, we had an elite set of players and when that team came off we sent in fresh legs so we could play at that same level. Dental Depot is designed like that; you know somebody always has your back.”
But just like her time playing basketball, Tracey’s biggest fans are on her home team. She and her husband have been together almost as long as she’s been in dentistry and will celebrate their 28th wedding anniversary this year. Together, they have four children. We asked how she balances her home and work life, and her answer shows just how much love she surrounds herself with.
“I do it with lots of support from my family,” Tracey said. “It always has been a struggle because my heart is in both places, but it’s hard to pull me away from. The only way I can do it is the huge support from my husband. He’s my biggest fan.”
Being a dental assistant has always been enough for Tracey. Occasionally people would ask her why she didn’t go on to be a hygienist or even a dentist, but she knew what she liked.
“I was busy raising my family and I put so much energy into assisting,” Tracey said. “I value what the hygienists do, but it was never for me. I love having all the knowledge of how the whole thing flows over here, from the set-ups to the procedures.”
Her knowledge and expertise are what make her more than a valuable team member—it makes her a coach. In addition to serving as the lead assistant for Dr. Salayta, she also trains new assistants for all of Dental Depot’s Tulsa area locations through what the area office managers refer to as, “Tracey’s Boot Camp.”
“Mentoring is my favorite. I have a huge passion for what we do as assistants,” Tracey said with a smile. “Sometimes we’ll get assistants who say, ‘I’m just an assistant.’ And here at Dental Depot, it’s more. We hold a high standard for who we are and what we do. I want them to appreciate and value their position. It’s to serve first and foremost the patients, our doctors, and our teammates.”
In her time with Dental Depot, Tracey has raised up more than a handful of assistants, with no plans of stopping.
“I see all the room for growth and I’ve never had that opportunity in another practice,” Tracey said. “I love that Dental Depot is willing to give somebody a chance. I love teaching one on one. Everybody said, ‘You should go be a teacher,’ but that’s not where my heart is,” Tracey laughed. “I’m not done playing yet. That’s what this is for me, playing.”
Tracey’s game face and winning attitude are what inspired her team to nominate her as employee of the month. In addition to her role as lead assistant and mentor, Tracey serves as the cultural committee representative for all of the Tulsa area locations. As a part of this internal committee, Tracey helps Dental Depot to better celebrate and embrace the community she represents.
“[Being named employee of the month] couldn’t have come at a better time to celebrate my time in dentistry,” Tracey said. “That was my highlight.”
When Tracey isn’t at the office, she enjoys relaxing at the lake with her family and water skiing. She stays active by bicycling and completed the Oklahoma Freewheel Bike Tour, with plans of doing so again.
Tracey was nominated for Employee of the Month by Carolina Gallegos, manager of Dental Depot’s South Tulsa office, as well as several of her coworkers:
“Tracey has been the cornerstone of our clinical team in South Tulsa for years. Tracey has worked in dentistry for over 30 years and her vast knowledge and experience shows each and every day. She’s extremely hardworking, has a service minded attitude and displays the Dental Depot’s core values every day. Additionally, Tracey has trained and mentored multiple externs and new assistants and has helped many jump-start their careers. There is much more to say about how awesome an employee she is, I owe much to Tracey as she’s been my lead assistant for years and is definitely worthy of recognition for her dedication and excellence” – Dr. Muhannad Salayta
“Tracey is Dr. Salayta’s lead assistant. She not only is amazing at her job, but she actually loves doing it. She has mentioned in the past that she feels like Dental Depot is her home. She has taken it upon herself to train more than one Dental Assistant, and they appreciate her help. She has also been working as the Cultural Committee Representative for Tulsa and is looking for ways to bring the offices closer together. She is even looking for ways to boost morale in the office and came up with the idea to post good reviews in our breakroom for everyone to see. We are so grateful to have her.” – Carolina Gallegos, office manager, Dental Depot South Tulsa
“There hasn’t been a day where I don’t see Tracey going above and beyond. Her bubbly personality and amazing spirit make patients love her! She cares for each individual person and makes them feel special. Her co-workers love her and can always depend on her in any situation. Tracey is the perfect example of a team player. What sets her apart from everyone else is her creativity! She is always thinking of new things and her ideas are always amazing. I can’t think of anyone who deserved this award more than she does.”—Selena Loya, assistant manager, Dental Depot South Tulsa
Tracey’s outstanding leadership skills do not go unnoticed. Having her on our team makes a huge difference. The pride she takes in her work daily is truly inspiring. Even when the day is hectic she continues to have a positive attitude and a smile on her face. She is a rockstar!”—Summer Hodge, patient care coordinator
Dental Depot is a locally owned and operated family company. As such, we believe that the incredible group of doctors, hygienists, assistants and staff that make up Dental Depot are more than their job titles; they’re members of our extended family. In our family, we like to recognize when someone goes above and beyond, living the Dental Depot values. This February, we are proud to shine a spotlight on Employee of the Month Tracey Mulkey.