Current legislation in Queensland requires that undergraduate nursing students are personally supervised when administering restricted medication in the clinical setting. Previous research suggests this is not always the case. Exploration of the experiences of undergraduate nursing students was undertaken using grounded theory as the methodological framework. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 28 students during their final year clinical placements. Data were analysed using a constant comparative approach. The focus of this paper is to examine the emergent theme of internal conflict, which is experienced by the participants as a consequence of the theory–practice gap. This conflict is reflected by the divergent requirements and expectations between the university and the registered nurses providing supervision in light of the role both play in student assessment. In addition, the participants voiced concerns about patient safety due to the potential for medication error. Internal conflict was identified by participants as the cause of considerable fear and anxiety about passing the course, getting a job and avoiding harm to patients. These findings raise serious concerns about the adequacy of the supervision for nursing students and highlighted the need for a more concerted approach to the theoretical and clinical education of students in relation to medication administration.