How the Heck Do You Spell “Health Care”?

Montreal Syllabus Translation Surprised NursesIf you’ve ever had to translate “professionnel de la santé” into English then you know what I’m driving at. Based on common usage alone, the adjective is so variable (“health care,” “healthcare” or “health-care”) that it could make you lose your mind.

On the one hand, the venerable Webster’s and Oxford both hyphenate “health care” as an adjective when it comes before the noun. Health Canada, on the other hand, leaves it open (“health care costs,” “health care needs”), while the Globe and Mail flip-flops on the issue (“health-care spending” and “health care budget,” in the same article no less). The Oxford Guide to Canadian English Usage notes that many professional organizations are leaning toward the sleeker, one-word option of “healthcare” as in “healthcare professional,” like the Canadian Healthcare Association and the Canadian Healthcare Network. Even the Canadian Cancer Society suggests that you “talk to your healthcare professional before making any medical decisions.”

So who’s a gal to trust?

My suggestion—drop the “care” and go for the more streamlined (if a bit colder) “health professional.” I mean, do we really need the word “care” in there? Isn’t English all for getting to the point faster with fewer characters to tweet?

Anyone?

 

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