Nursing Informatics:  Part I : Nursing Informatics as a Career
Interview with Lt. Col. Florence Valley

Part of the Day in the Life Series by
Medical Career Profiles

Interview and editing by Bonnie Garrington for

Name: Lt. Col. Florence Valley
Title: Chief, Health Care Integrator
Place of Employment: Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska
Educational Background: M.S. in Nursing

Background: Lt. Col. Florence Valley joined the U.S. Air Force in 1982, the year she received a B.A. in nursing from the College of Saint Catherine in St. Paul, MN. She began her career as an obstetrics staff nurse, moved into the role of assistant nurse manager, then worked at another facility where they needed a medical-surgical nurse manager. While in Bitburg, Germany, she managed outpatient clinics starting in pediatrics and ending in family practice. After she worked as an inpatient obstetrics head nurse at another facility, she began course work at the University of Arizona and graduated with a M.S. degree. Her nursing studies focused on case, systems and data management. Today she works at a military medical treatment facility that serves a population of 28,000 beneficiaries at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. Valley has worked as an informatics nurse since 1999.

Q. What made you choose nursing informatics as a career?
To a certain extent, by happenstance, but I also wanted to find something that would set me apart from my peers. Many of them were also nurse managers, so we had the same skills. I really don’t consider myself in the role of “nursing” informatics. I am a nurse that does informatics. I value the business aspect of health care, and I knew that providing quality health care was often data driven. Also, the military health system had recently become part of a network of contracts representing possibly the biggest HMO in the nation. Information is so very important in every aspect of this enterprise. Because of my course work at Arizona, I kind of fell into data management because I knew that data drove many decisions. Another reason was that my husband is an avid computer “geek,” so the environment was familiar. It’s a long story, but my experience has prepared me well for this career. It has all come together. With my clinical background, I know the processes that produce the data. With my computer background, I’m able to retrieve data and transform it into information needed to improve medical care.