DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- North Carolina Central University nursing student Brook Meyer is learning first-hand what it means to be a nurse and under the watch of Roger Collins empathy is part of this lesson.
"You need to flash your care for a patient like someone flashes their Mastercard or Visa. You need to let the patient know you care," NCCU nursing professor Roger Collins. "You have to make a patient feel good about having an IV. That's an art in itself."
Collins first stepped foot on the campus of North Carolina Central University in 1983 at 26 years old. In his 40 years on campus, he's held various positions. Today he is a lab educator.
"Nursing is at the bedside. People forget the doctor's name. They know the nurse. They talk about the nurse for days. They will mention the doctor," he said.
At 67 years old, he describes himself as a proud old-school nurse. After forty years here, the UNC Chapel Hill graduate told ABC11 he feels more like an NCCU Eagle than a Tar Heel.
According to the American Nurses Foundation, the latest survey shows turnover is still at pre-pandemic levels. Burnout and mental health challenges are impacting the field.
Collins said this kind of care has to be in your heart.
"You may make this money, but that's not the focus here. You're helping human beings move from one place to another. That's your calling here," he said.
He estimates he's taught 500,000 nurses. His retirement isn't going over so well with current students.
"I'm not okay with him leaving but, celebrate retirement. What an accomplishment," said student Brooke Meyer.
Another student referred to Collins as a legend.
"When I first got here at Central, somebody was like Mr. Collins is still there? I'm like yep, still here. He's a legend around here," said student Miles Alexander.
Collins says some of his former students have even retired before him, but his day is coming soon. He is leaving a lasting legacy of compassion and standing on the shoulders of those who came before him.
"If you have to ask me what song would best signify how I'd like to be remembered, it would be Tina Turner's song You're simply the best, better than all the rest," said Collins.
Collins plans to retire on December 31st. He said for six months he's going to fish and golf. After that, he plans to come back to NCCU part-time three times a week.