AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — From a young age, Claud Bugheni knew he wanted to enter the medical field.. He grew up in Cameroon. When he and his twin sister were born, his parents snuck them out of the hospital.

“The bills got so high,” Bugheni explained. “My parents had a friend who was a nurse at the hospital. They got us out of the hospital, not exactly through the front door.”

“Growing up in a place where there wasn’t a lot of access to healthcare, if your parents weren’t the wealthiest, you couldn’t go to the hospital,” he added.

My Duyen Vo knew she wanted to become a doctor at a young age as well.

“I was born in Vietnam,” Vo explained. “My family moved here when I was pretty young. I think in the Vietnamese-American community, it’s so uncommon for people to be insured and for people to access regular health care.”

Vo and Bugheni recognized this need and wanted to fill it. They applied and were accepted into the Peach State Scholar Program at the Medical College of Georgia (MCG). They, and their six classmates, will finish medical school in three years instead of four years. After they graduate from MCG and complete a residency program, they will work in an underserved or rural community in Georgia.

“What people aren’t aware of is that the majority of Georgia is underserved,” Vo said. “So many counties are lacking a physician.”

According to the Georgia Board of Health Care Workers, there were eight counties in the state without a physician in 2017. 63 counties did not have a pediatrician.

“A lot of patients have to travel so far to be able to access regular care that would otherwise be readily available elsewhere.”

Vo and Bugheni have already gone into some of these communities and have seen the need for healthcare firsthand. For them, it’s a no brainer that is where they want to begin their careers.

“I’ve been blessed in so many ways,” Bugheni said. “There’s no better way to give back than to go out to these areas.”