The AHEAD program is a career development offering for UW-Madison scholars interested in health equity research hosted out of the UW Collaborative Center for Health Equity (CCHE). One purpose of the AHEAD program is to address the gaps in mentoring that postdoctoral fellows and early career faculty experience—specifically, to give supplemental mentoring that can provide AHEAD scholars with support, clear expectations, shared values, and mutual respect. The outside mentoring component of AHEAD is one aspect that is unique about the program—that AHEAD scholars can share space with one another and to brainstorm how to get their mentoring needs met from others navigating similar career paths.
What Makes the AHEAD Program Unique?
It's different kinds of support like emotional and social support with sort of the traditional informational and tangible aspects of career counseling but matching that with the community and with kind of 'come as you are' feeling of it-I think is pretty unique.AHEAD participant 2021 feedback
I thought the AHEAD program does that really beautifully and well. I don't think I've come across anything either in my pre-doctoral time at UW that has that particular merge of support.
Curriculum and Peer Support
The program includes four sessions during the academic year with AHEAD scholars using a curriculum specifically focused on mentoring early career scholars who have a specialty in health equity research. Sessions range in content, but often include curriculum on time management, learning how to say no, managing power relationships in academia, engaging in community-based participatory research, and negotiating academic job offers.
Beginning in 2020, AHEAD scholar session content has reflected COVID-19-specific issues, such as navigating work/life balance while working from home and the changes to the career landscape for academics in health equity fields. One way the AHEAD program facilitates peer support is by setting up writing accountability groups for scholars involved in the program.
Since AHEAD scholars are early career scholars (postdocs and junior faculty), they are eligible to apply for the AHEAD Pilot Grant, which provides $10,000-$25,000 in seed funding to support research related to health equity.
The AHEAD program was established in 2012 out of the UW CCHE and in partnership with select career development programs within and associated with the UW Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR). The target AHEAD audience is post-doctoral or junior faculty scholars whose scholarship focuses on health disparities/health equity research.
In 2016, CCHE extended AHEAD to other health equity fellows on the UW campus and invited recent alumni of the Health Equity Leadership Institute (HELI) program to participate via video. AHEAD also offers scholars mentoring and support provided by Faculty Director Stephanie Budge, PhD.