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Lessons from Successes in Medical Communication Training and Their Applications to Accounting Education

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Accountants interact with people from diverse backgrounds. While accounting knowledge and technical skills are essential, it is well-developed interpersonal skills that will enhance their relationships with clients and staff alike. Similarly, patients want their doctors to have extensive medical knowledge and an agreeable bedside manner. To address this, professional communication training forms part of the education of doctors and has been extensively researched. Employers of accounting graduates are looking for students with well-developed interpersonal skills. However, concerns continue about how well accounting education has addressed this need. In addition, research on approaches to improve accountants' interpersonal skills is limited. This paper seeks to raise awareness that successes in medical professional communication training may be drawn on to help frame an interpersonal skills training approach appropriate for accounting education. Also provided are two appendices that may assist accounting educators. One takes a medical communication model and suggests how it might be adapted to understand accountant–client interactions, while the other summarises the key issues to be considered in implementing interpersonal skills training including listing some helpful resources.

Keywords: Accountants' communication; education of accountants; interpersonal skills; medical communication training

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Avondale College of Higher Education, Australia

Publication date: 2012-08-01

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