The organization I chose to do my practicum at is a health clinic that services an assortment of patients.  They pride themselves on caring for patients regardless of payment, and their mission statement states: “Our mission is to significantly improve the health status of its population through the prevention of illness, the promotion of health education, the provision of quality primary care, access to the under-served and a strong commitment to chronic disease” (BAHC, n.d.).  There are 11 clinics across New Mexico.  The majority of the population seen at the Las Cruces clinic are Hispanics.  One of the most common diagnoses seen is GERD and heartburn. While GERD is common in Hispanics, there is not a lot of evidence that says spicy foods itself causes it (a staple in Mexican diets). “While there’s some evidence these foods can trigger heartburn, experts say how you eat is more important than what you eat when it comes to controlling painful flare-ups” (Heid, 2015). This is a health education issue that I feel needs to be addressed.  Too often, it’s the type of food that gets blamed (spicy to be exact), rather than the when, how, and why.    This needs to be address as it has a few implications for nursing.  One, many patients self-medicate.  They take over-the-counter Zantac or Pepcid or other antacids instead of being treated by a provider and educated, so when they do get seen, they have worse issues than the original problems.  Another implication is this leads to worse issues and further studies being done.  Endoscopies, colonoscopies and such, as well as studies for H. Pylori.  This adds to patients being admitted, which adds to the patient load that is already stressed on the inpatient floors.  References:  BAHC. (n.d.). About Us . Retrieved from Heid, M. (2015, October 30). It’s Not Food Causing Your Heartburn-Here Are The 5 Real Culprits. Retrieved from

While GERD and heartburn are common diagnoses seen in the Hispanic population at the health clinic, there is a misconception that spicy foods themselves cause these conditions. This is an important health education issue that needs to be addressed, as it has several implications for nursing practice.

Firstly, many patients who experience GERD or heartburn often self-medicate with over-the-counter antacids like Zantac or Pepcid instead of seeking treatment from a healthcare provider. This is problematic because without proper medical evaluation, their underlying condition may go undiagnosed and untreated. As a result, when these patients do eventually seek medical care, their symptoms may have worsened, leading to more complex and severe health issues. This not only puts the patients at risk of additional complications, but also puts a strain on the healthcare system. Healthcare providers are then faced with the challenge of managing more advanced cases that could have been prevented with early intervention and education.

Secondly, the belief that spicy foods are the main cause of GERD and heartburn can lead to unnecessary diagnostic procedures, such as endoscopies and colonoscopies, as well as additional testing for conditions like H. Pylori infection. These procedures and tests can be invasive and costly, and may not be necessary if the true cause of the symptoms is properly addressed. By educating patients on the true causes and triggers of GERD and heartburn, healthcare providers can help reduce the need for these invasive procedures, ultimately saving healthcare resources and improving patient care.

In order to effectively address this health education issue, healthcare providers at the clinic should focus on educating patients about the importance of seeking medical care and proper treatment for GERD and heartburn. This includes dispelling the myth that spicy foods are the sole cause of these conditions and emphasizing the need for comprehensive evaluation and personalized treatment plans. Providers should also educate patients about lifestyle modifications that may help alleviate symptoms, such as avoiding large meals, eating slowly, and maintaining a healthy weight.

Furthermore, healthcare providers should prioritize cultural competence when addressing this issue in the Hispanic population. Understanding the cultural factors that may contribute to the consumption of spicy foods and the belief that they cause GERD and heartburn can help providers tailor their educational approach to be more effective. This may involve collaborating with community leaders or cultural influencers to deliver health messages, utilizing culturally appropriate materials and resources, and engaging patients in open and respectful discussions about their beliefs and practices.

In conclusion, the misconception that spicy foods cause GERD and heartburn is a health education issue that needs to be addressed in the clinic serving the Hispanic population. By educating patients about the true causes and triggers of these conditions and emphasizing the importance of seeking medical care, healthcare providers can help prevent unnecessary self-medication, reduce the need for invasive diagnostic procedures, and improve overall patient care. Additionally, healthcare providers should strive to incorporate cultural competence into their approach, ensuring that their educational efforts are tailored to the specific needs and beliefs of the Hispanic population they serve.