Audra Hutton Lopez, M.S.N. '93, A.R.N.P., F.N.P.-C., C.N.S., B.S.N. '90, has always enjoyed helping people. As she puts it, "I like becoming a comfort zone for patients."

That attitude is especially important in Lopez's work as nurse practitioner for liver transplant services at Broward General Medical Center, where she handles patient education and support as well as a range of complex clinical responsibilities. Some of her most challenging moments, she says, come when transplants don't occur: "I do what I can to keep the patients comfortable and lessen the trauma."

Before starting the liver transplant program at Broward General, Lopez worked with pediatric heart transplants. So the transition, she says, was a natural one. She is now responsible for managing all pre- and post-transplant patients, working with the surgery teams, and providing information from lab analyses.While being on call 24-7 is intense, she says,"I love working with patients and their families."

Lopez, who serves as a board memspecial ber of the Life Alliance Organ Recovery Agency and is chair for the Liver Transplant Patient Education Manual of the International Transplant Nurses Society, is also heavily involved in her University family as the new vice president of UM's Broward Alumni Club. "In school, I was the president of the Florida Student Nursing Association, so I still enjoy being able to help students," says the native Miamian, who says she always knew that she wanted to be a 'Cane. The club offers mentorships for new alumni,helps maintain unity among graduate students, and shows incoming students the ropes.

Ultimately, says Lopez, what it really comes down to is "being that family away from home."