Mercy First in the U.S. to Expand Family Medicine Residency Program to Focus on Obesity

April 18, 2023

The family medicine residency program at Mercy in St. Louis, Missouri was recently approved by the ACGME for an optional fourth year focusing on leading community efforts in public health care related to obesity and associated conditions.

This new initiative was approved as part of the ACGME’s Advancing Innovation in Residency Education (AIRE) program. The program encourages exploration of novel approaches and pathways to enhance attainment of educational and clinical outcomes through innovative assessment and curricular structures and processes in graduate medical education. Through the AIRE program, the ACGME provides waivers of certain Program Requirements related to curriculum and outcomes to help foster these innovations. Proposals for AIRE pilots undergo a rigorous review process with ultimate approval granted by the ACGME Review Committee overseeing accreditation of programs in the applicable specialty or subspecialty.

The goal of the Mercy innovation is to prepare graduates for a successful career in community-based primary care and obesity management. The additional program year will also foster a pathway to certification with the American Board of Obesity Medicine while seeking to help reduce community rates of obesity, community health disparities in obesity management, and more.

“AIRE offers residency programs a unique opportunity to expand training and test new educational and assessment approaches through innovation and increased flexibility. We look forward to seeing the results of the pilot at Mercy and encourage programs from all specialties to reach out with ideas to improve health and health care,” said Chief Research, Milestone Development, and Evaluation Officer Eric Holmboe, MD, who co-leads the team that assesses AIRE proposals. Staff members work closely with the appropriate involved Review Committee(s) and the applying programs themselves to ensure proposals continue to satisfy the requirements for the specialty or subspecialty related to the ACGME’s six Core Competencies.

Nearly a dozen AIRE-approved projects are currently underway. Proposals can be submitted at any time during the year by following the process outlined on the ACGME website. Send questions to