Aiming high: Brownsville nurse attorney sworn in to Supreme Court
Becoming either a nurse or an attorney would be impressive to most, but Brownsville resident Ruth Gomez Serra has made a career doing both. She reached a milestone in her professional journey last year when she was sworn in as member of the Supreme Court Bar, admitting her to argue cases before the highest court in the land.
Serra has been a registered nurse for over 30 years and an attorney for over 20 years. She was the only Texan in her around 50-person delegation sworn in at the Supreme Court last March, she said.
“It was an honor,” Serra, who traveled to Washington, D.C., for the ceremony, said. “It was really touching.”
National Association of Nurse Attorneys sponsored Serra’s admission to the Supreme Court. While her legal practice covers a wide arrays of areas, her career in nursing makes her uniquely qualified for a specialty in nursing and health care law.
Not only can Serra argue before the Supreme Court, she explained, she also has privileges to use the Supreme Court library and listen to oral arguments.
Serra places credit for her professional accomplishments squarely on her parents. As the middle child of seven, she said her parents ran a strict home and stressed the importance of education.
Her mother was a nurse and her father was a physician. It was her dad, Dr. Ruben Gomez, who steered her toward a career in health care, Serra said.
After earning her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, she began work as a labor and delivery nurse for high-risk patients. She later moved on to travel nursing, which took her on stints to California and Nevada.
Serra said some of her most rewarding moments as a nurse were when she helped patients with serious conditions.
“The assessment is done correctly and you’re able to get that person into the OR (operating room) and get that baby delivered,” she said. “Especially when someone comes in with a complication like, ‘I don’t feel my baby move.’ And then you put them on the monitors and … you get the ball rolling.”
Serra made the leap from health care to law when she started a family and wanted a profession with regular business hours.
“I loved nursing. I really did. I loved the high-pace work,” she said. “Then I got married and had a child. I decided these 12-hour shifts are not going to work.”
She was in her 30s when she enrolled in the Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston, and her parents pitched in with caring for her daughter.
“I had to learn how to study again and all that. So I was not going to fail. I was going to give it all I had,” Serra said.
Laws that impact nursing change with each Texas legislative session, she said, which keeps her busy. She’s got no plans to switch gears any time soon.
“It’s always changing, so you’re always reading,” she said. “I’m staying in. Helping nurses, therapists, social workers.”