by John Noblitt, MAEd, CBET

In the last two installments of “ICC Prep,” we have covered many aspects of networking found in today’s health care facilities. We have covered information from how networks are defined in health care facilities to some of the equipment that makes networks possible, along with some basic troubleshooting techniques. In this article, we will attempt to narrow down some of the information to what you may actually see on the exam.

As previously mentioned, you must know a little about the topologies used in today’s networks, such as star, token ring, mesh, bus, etc. Know that today’s networks all use some form of mesh or fully connected topologies. These newer designs of topologies are employed so if a computer on the network goes down, the network is still able to communicate, unlike older types of topologies such as ring or token ring.

For network devices such as hubs, switches, routers, and servers, you must have a general idea of what each of these devices do for the network and how they may differ from one another. You will also need to know some information about media access control (MAC) addresses and network interface controllers (NICs, also known as network interface cards), along with information such as TCP/IP, FTP, and IP addresses. In addition, you may need to know a little about some of the network protocols such as IEEE 802.x or CSMS/CD, which stands for carrier sense multiple access/collision detection. I could envision a question about what IEEE stands for, which is the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Each of these topics have been addressed in the two previous “ICC Prep” articles, so you may want to review those articles (Part 1, December 2010 and Part 2, February 2011).

Cables, connectors, and the OSI model are the other areas I would definitely brush up on. The OSI model is a theoretical way of looking at a computer network and how information is transferred. There are seven layers to the OSI model, such as physical, data, presentation, and application. To see all the layers, do a quick Google search, which will show you each of the layers and what they do.

Making the Connection

I do not believe the CBET exam will go that deep into networking questions. However, the areas where you could possibly see many network questions are in cables and connectors. With cables, make sure you know the definition of CAT 5 and CAT 6. Remember, CAT 6 is a shielded CAT 5 cable. Cables such as unshielded twisted pair (UTP) and twisted pair (TP) are also used in today’s networks. Many cables are listed with a designation, such as 10Base2, where the 10 is the speed in megabits/second, the “Base” is for the base band, and the 2 is for the type of cable—such as Thinnet in this example.

Cable devices of different types (such as a switch connected to a computer, or a switch to a router) are connected with what is known as patch cords. A crossover cable is a type of Ethernet cable used to connect computing devices together directly where they would normally be connected via a network switch, hub, or router, such as directly connecting two personal computers via their network adapters. The major difference in these two types of cables is how they are terminated.

Many types of connectors you need to be familiar with are as follows. A PS/2 connector is a circular six-pin connector usually found with keyboards or with a mouse. A USB port or connection is a Universal Serial Bus and can daisy chain up to 127 devices with speeds up to 1.5MB/sec. Serial ports are RS-232 connections, while parallel ports use a DB-25-type connector. DB-9 is a nine-pin connector that is used to connect a mouse on older computers, but you could still see a question about this type of connector along with a DB-25 type, which can be used for modem connections.

An RJ-45 connector is used to terminate your CAT 5 cable, which then allows you to connect your computer to the network. It looks much like your phone connector, but it is wider. Remember, your phone connector is an RJ-11.

Finally, yet importantly, know that DIACOM stands for Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine, and PACS stands for a Picture Archiving and Communication System.

John Noblitt, MAEd, CBET, is the BMET program director at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, Hudson, NC. For more information, contact [email protected].