Preparing for the BCEMP Exam

BY: Craig Cocchio, PharmD, BCPS, DABAT

"Pharmacist to Room 38 STAT!"

You heard this page while handling a call from an outpatient pharmacy about a new albuterol nebulizer prescription. And, before that, you had:

  • helped with empiric antibiotics for a penicillin-allergic patient
  • replaced a patient's potassium before starting an insulin drip, and
  • adjusted a heparin dose for the appropriate weight and indication.

As you enter Room 38, the nurse is bringing in a code cart, which gives you a reasonably good clue about why you were paged.

Many have said emergency medicine (EM) involves the most interesting 15 minutes of every disease. While this quote often refers to physician practice, it is also relevant to EM pharmacists. For an EM pharmacist to meaningfully contribute to patient care in this setting, you must be able to quickly think five steps ahead. That means knowing the disease's pathophysiology, clinical presentation, relevant labs, imaging, diagnostic criteria, and first-line and alternative therapies. In doing so, an EM pharmacist's involvement in the care of these patients improves their outcomes.

Now, the question becomes,

"How can a pharmacist's knowledge, clinical skills, and credibility be further demonstrated in EM?"

The Board Certification in Emergency Medicine Pharmacy (BCEMP) credential is an option for you to pursue to elevate your practice and gain professional recognition in EM. Once you determine this path will achieve those goals and solidify your place in EM, then comes preparation time.


To prepare for the BCEMP exam, you must focus on thinking and practicing in the emergency department setting because it is different from many others. A vast foundation of disease and pharmacotherapeutic knowledge is critical to your ability to adapt to ever-changing patient scenarios while addressing numerous concurrent issues with other patients. All this tends to happen chaotically and quickly. Systematic and critical thinking is a must to problem-solve in this setting. With this understanding of the emergency department environment, you can begin to prepare for the knowledge and perspective you will need to develop to successfully obtain BCEMP certification.

Keeping these things in mind, consider High-Yield Med Reviews' study approach that systematically assists you in successfully demonstrating your qualifications on the BCEMP exam: Learn, Practice, Apply, and Review.


Emergency medicine necessitates knowledge of a vast number of core disease states. The BCEMP exam requires pharmacists to demonstrate how to effectively manage each core disease state in Table 1. Fundamental reviews of each disease's pathophysiology, classic presentation, primary labs and imaging, diagnostic criteria, and primary treatment are critical to mastering the broad content. This knowledge may not be necessary for every patient care situation. Still, the knowledge foundation must be in place for critical thinking and sound clinical judgment, allowing you as a pharmacist to participate meaningfully in collaborative care.

Table 1: Core Disease States

Fluids and Electrolytes

Health Maintenance
Public Health
Infectious Diseases



"Success has to do with deliberate practice." - Malcolm Gladwell

The question bank, or Q-bank, at High-Yield Med Reviews provides you with "deliberate practice" that includes answers and rationale for right and wrong choices. Practice should be more than just completing questions to see if they are right or wrong. Practice should also include receiving feedback on your performance. After establishing your core knowledge in the Learn phase, practicing hundreds and hundreds of questions in the Q-bank further deepens your preparation. Going one step further, High-Yield Med Reviews provides the central concept to aid your further study if needed.


Since the BCEMP credential is meant to represent your practice ability in addition to your knowledge, you must also learn to clinically apply information in the multiple-choice format, i.e., demonstrate your proficiency in real-world application.

In case-based reviews, High-Yield Med Reviews presents complex clinical scenarios when drug therapy or other interventions are necessary for patient care. High-Yield Med Reviews utilizes cases by their content experts, which include an emergency medicine physician, an emergency medicine pharmacist, and a clinical pharmacist with numerous clinical experiences that contribute to this setting. These cases originate from real-world experience and present complicated patient cases that will grow clinical application abilities beyond core knowledge questions. Additionally, you will be instructed on how these questions are presented on the exam and how to choose the well-established correct answer.


Some decide to stop here. You have learned, practiced, and applied, so why review? Reviewing the knowledge gained in the previous steps allows for spaced repetition and cyclical learning to occur. In the Rapid Review content, you can ensure knowledge is solidified or meaningfully remind yourself of a concept you did know but forgot over time. Since you should begin exam preparation at least 3-6 months before your BCEMP exam, there will be time gaps in studying that a good review can overcome.

Obtaining the BCEMP credential through the BCEMP exam is an achievable goal with dedicated and systematic preparation. High-Yield Med Reviews can be your partner to guide you through this process and celebrate with you when you add "BCEMP" to your name.


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Q&A with Craig Cocchio, PharmD, BCPS, DABAT

Q: What is your favorite aspect of Emergency Medicine pharmacy and why?
A: There are two outstanding aspects of emergency medicine that inspire me. First, emergency medicine is the most interesting 15 minutes of every disease! Secondly, we (pharmacists, nurses, physicians, and technicians) must collaborate as a team to achieve the best possible care for these patients. While we all know our individual roles, we often reach out to each other for insight and learn to ask one another for help.
Do any of the 3 phases of exam prep listed in the article (Learn, Practice, Apply) stand out as the most challenging for you personally in preparing for the BCEMP Exam? If so, how did you overcome the obstacle(s)?

A: Emergency medicine's wide scope makes practicing and applying challenging regardless, but trying to learn everything from neonatal care to oncology to pharmacogenomics to statistics is often the bigger challenge. High Yield's various teaching methods (q-bank questions, lecture content and rapid reviews) are the best tools for mastering the learn, practice, apply elements.

Preparing for the BCEMP Exam

Updated to reflect Q&A with Craig Cocchio, PharmD, BCPS, DABAT.

08/04/2023 at 11:14am